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Man who drowned in Great Falls ID'd as former Pondera County sheriff

Man who drowned in Great Falls has been identified
Posted at 2:02 PM, Aug 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-28 16:57:07-04

The man whose body was found in the Missouri River in Great Falls on Thursday has been identified as Leon Simpson, a former police chief and sheriff in central Montana.

Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter said in a news release on Friday that Simpson, 74, lived in Great Falls. The investigation by the sheriff's office determined the cause of death was drowning and the manner of death was accidental.

At about 3:20 p.m. on Thursday, deputies were dispatched to Rainbow Dam boat launch for a report of a man who had drowned. Officers with the Montana Highway Patrol and Cascade County Sheriff's Office recovered the body from the river.

Slaughter said that Simpson often fished this part of the river and he was not wearing a life jacket at the time. He also said that Simpson's boat floated away to the opposite shore, and FWP secured it prior to arrival of search and recovery personnel.

According to Slaughter, Simpson served as the chief of police in Conrad from 1980-1987, and he was the sheriff of Pondera County from 1987-2004.

Simpon's daughter posted on Facebook: "For those who haven’t heard heaven gained a beautiful angel today.... my dad Leon passed away today totally unexpectedly...he died doing something he loved and that was fishing. He fell out of his boat and drowned today in the river he loved so much! Please keep us all in ur prayers! RIP dad u will forever be missed by many"