IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Bonneville County Sheriff Paul Wilde made the decision to move forward with Melaleuca's Freedom Celebration fireworks on Thursday night.
Wilde told Local News 8's Caleb James, he suggested organizers move forward with the fireworks display to aid search and rescue crews in their objective: to recover the body of missing swimmer, later identified as 27-year-old Lloyd Westbrook II.
Sheriff Lt. James Foster said Westbrook II may have tried to swim to Keefer's Island when he became caught in the Snake River's unforgiving current.
It happened just about a half hour before the fireworks were to begin.
From about 9:30 to 11 p.m., rescue crews were in the water searching for a man eyewitnesses said had jumped into the water.
The fireworks were expected to begin around 10 p.m., but were delayed for about an hour as crews combed the water with boats and dive teams, trying to find Westbrook II alive.
Foster said the time for finding Westbrook alive had passed. Wilde said he encouraged the fireworks display to continue, so spectators would clear the area and allow crews to more effectively operate a mission to recover Westbrook II's body.
"Let's go ahead and have the show, we can have the people move out then, then we can more safely perform recovery efforts on the water," said Foster.
Foster said he wanted to clear up any rumor that the search was suspended for the show.
A rescue operation was suspended during the show, because the search was reclassified as a recovery.
He said searchers were active both in the water and on the banks of the river during the fireworks show.