Friday, May 12, 2017

Owner of Wirth Co. landscaping company, Mike Wirth, died inside a massively flooded basement north of Ketchum, Idaho

A Ketchum, ID man died Wednesday after attempting to pump water from the basement of a home at the eastern end of Eagle Creek Road, north of Ketchum.

Mike Wirth, 54, who was hired to work at the site, died after being brought to the hospital Wednesday afternoon, family friend Susan Teren confirmed. Teren is also the office manager of Wirth Co., a Ketchum-based landscaping company that Wirth owned with his wife, Tami Nakaoka.

The Ketchum and Sun Valley fire departments were dispatched around 11 a.m. Wednesday to reports of a man trapped in a flooded basement.

“It was in the basement; there was water,” and Wirth was alone, Teren said. Wirth had 40 years of experience with such work, she said.

“It wasn’t a reckless thing,” she said.

Teren said the home’s owner contacted Wirth Co. on Monday looking for a new landscaper, but “the first problem to solve was the water in the basement.”

“We do not know what he died from yet,” Teren said. “They’re investigating.”

Wirth was in the basement on Tuesday with another employee, Teren said, and the employee told her the water was too deep for him to enter.

She said Wirth was wearing a wet-suit and diving into the water in a “really dark space” of the basement, attempting to unclog an apparatus that was pumping water out of the basement.

After attempting to clear the clog Tuesday, “he went back yesterday alone, and nobody knows what happened,” Teren said Thursday.

In conducting an interview with the Idaho Mountain Express, Teren said she and Nakaoka hoped to dispel rumors that had been circulating online about Wirth’s death.

Blaine County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Will Fruehling said at the scene that first responders could initially communicate with Wirth, but that Wirth fell silent before they could reach him.

Once Wirth was removed from the basement, CPR was performed and he was transported to St. Luke’s Wood River hospital, where he later was pronounced dead.

Blaine County Sheriff Steve Harkins confirmed that an incident at the home was under investigation, but said that additional details about the case could not immediately be released.

It is possible that he was electrocuted to death.



On May 10, 2017 at approximately 11:10 am, Blaine County Communications dispatched deputies from the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office and a technical rescue team from the Ketchum Fire Department to 85 Eagle Creek Road, north of Ketchum, Idaho.

A 911 call from 68 year old, John T. Hastings, and 56 year old, Andrea M. Hastings, reported a male calling for help in the flooded basement of their residence.

The victim was the owner of a landscape company assisting the Hastings with flooding related issues. The rescue team went into the basement and were able to locate and retrieve the unconscious victim in a secondary room of the unlit basement in approximately 6 feet of water.

Ketchum Fire Department medics began CPR and then the victim was transported by ambulance to St. Luke’s Wood River Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The victim was identified at the hospital to be 54 year old, Ketchum resident, Mike J. Wirth.

The cause of death is still undetermined at this time. The incident is currently under investigation.

The Blaine County Sheriff's Department has ordered the mandatory evacuation of 16 more homes in the Della Vista neighborhood of Hailey, bringing the total number of homes under mandatory evacuation to 21.

The affected homes are south of Della Vista Drive and west of Red Elephant.

The move is a precautionary one. Officials expect the Wood River to rise to about 7.83 feet--just above what it rose to last Sunday. Six feet is flood stage.

Authorities are also concerned about 20 mile per hour winds today and Saturday in Hailey, said Carol Brown, public information officer for the City of Hailey.

Meanwhile, a 54-year-old Ketchum man has died, possibly of flood related injuries.

Mike J. Wirth, 54, was found unconscious in about 6 feet of water in the basement of a home at 85 Eagle Creek Road. He was given CPR and transported to St. Luke's Wood River Hospital but succumbed to injuries.

The homeowners--John and Andrea Hastings--called 911 after they heard Wirth calling for help from the basement where he was helping them with flood related issues. A technical rescue team responded to the call. Wirth is owner of a landscaping company.

The cause of death is under investigation.

Meanwhile, authorities have cancelled the 6th annual Mud Run and Arborfest scheduled Saturday at Hailey's Hop Porter Park. It didn't seem right to hold it this year, creating a mud bog in Hop Porter Park, given the widespread flooding taking place in the Wood River Valley, said one first responder.

Besides, he added, emergency personnel who normally prepare the mud bog are busy dealing with the flooding.

KETCHUM, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - On May 10th the Blaine County Sheriff's Office was dispatched to a home north of Ketchum for a 911 call.

A man was trapped in a flooded basement of a home on Eagle Creek Road. When the rescue crews arrived they pulled the unconscious man, 54-year-old Mike Wirth from 6 feet of water. He passed away at the hospital.

Mike's friends said wanting to help was something he was known for.

"That's what got him up in the morning. To really go out and help people solve problems, and this was a big problem," said Susan Teren, a long-time family friend.

Wirth owned the Wirth Company, a landscaping business he ran in the town for 30 years.

"He's had this business for 30 years and he worked for other landscapers before that. So he's really a big part of this community and he'll be missed by a lot of people," Teren said.

In addition to his business Mike was the drummer in a band, Mike and the Earaches.

Sunday his family and friends will remember him with a memorial at Lefty's Bar and Grill in Ketchum.

His band will play from 5-7. His mom said family is coming into town from all over to celebrate Mike's life.

The Blaine County Sheriff's office is still investigating the cause of death and will release more information when they have it.