TSA recognizes officer from Boise Airport for rescues on Boise River

Serves as an important reminder to be prepared for dangers of swift and cold water
Local Press Release
Thursday, May 25, 2023
TSA recognizes officer from Boise Airport for rescues on Boise River

BOISE, Idaho - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has recognized a local TSA officer who works at Boise Airport (BOI) for his heroic actions last summer when he helped rescue three people in distress who were floating the Boise River.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske presented BOI Lead TSA officer (LTSO) Gavin Gard with the national “In the Line of Duty” award earlier this month at a ceremony in Arlington, Virginia. The agency commended LTSO Gard’s quick and selfless actions. 

Last July, Gard was floating the Boise River with friends. While on the river and near the end of the float trip, one of the members of his party slipped off her inner tube, which then floated away. She was able to grab hold of a branch while the current tried to pull her under the water. The woman’s son who was already out of the water spotted his mom in the river and attempted to help her.

Gard saw the two of them struggling, grabbed an inner tube and fought the river’s current to lead the woman to a safe area. Her son was able to make it to the bank of the river, but not before they heard a child’s voice calling for help. The child had been separated from her inner tube.

Having given his sandals to his friend’s mom, Gard was barefoot. That didn’t stop him from climbing down the bank of the river and secure the release of the child’s inner tube from the branches so she could float to safety.

Finally, the friend’s father who had also floated the river attempted to retrieve his wife’s inner tube and nearly went over a waterfall on the river. Gard assisted him and ensured he was able to make it out of the river unharmed. 

“LTSO Gavin Gard’s decisive and courageous actions, likely driven by adrenalin and innate skill, kept a day on the river from turning into a tragedy. We are grateful for people like LTSO Gard who see an opportunity to help and immediately act on their instincts,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Idaho Andy Coose. “It came as no surprise to me that Gavin stepped up and stepped in to this situation. He is a humble and exemplary employee who carries out the TSA mission every day, volunteering to assist his co-workers whatever the task while ensuring security checkpoint operations run smoothly. The TSA team locally and nationwide salutes Gavin for his efforts.”

LTSO Gard has been with TSA since 2021. Later this summer, he will receive the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Award for Valor, further recognizing his actions on the Boise River.

Boise River safety
The Boise Fire Department is reminding the public that spring flows along the Boise River remain higher than average at around 5,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). A “Dangerous River Condition” notice is in effect, and everyone is asked to stay out of the water at this time. Typical flows when the river is “open” for the official float season are between 500 and 1,500 cfs.

At this time, Boise Fire recommends that the public does not recreate in the river, as these conditions can be life threatening. Keep pets leashed near the river as they may chase other animals/wildlife into the swift water and be swept away rapidly.

“Despite the forecast of warm weather heading into the holiday weekend, Boise Fire is asking everyone to stay out of the Boise River for their own safety, and the safety of our first responders. At this time, current river flows are still far too high for recreational floating,” said Paul Roberts, Boise Fire’s Division Chief of Special Operations. 

The following hazards warrant a “Dangerous River Condition”:

  • Swift water that can carry people and pets away rapidly.
  • Cold water that can cause even the best swimmer to be incapable of swimming due to loss of motor/muscle control.
  • Debris in the river can injure people and contributes to extreme risk.
  • High water levels create reduced clearance when going under bridges.
  • Soft and unstable river banks.

If flooding takes place it can make access to the river more dangerous, if not impossible.