Obituary Details

Melverne Hulbert

(05/30/1924 - 05/30/1956)
Courtesy of Lusk Free Lance, 06/07/1956

Melverne Hulbert, Former Local Youth and Grandson of Frank Smith, Lusk, is Swept to His Death Over Shoshone Falls

A tragic accident occurred on Memorial Day and the 32nd birthday anniversary of the accident victim, Melverne Hulbert of Boise, Idaho, grandson of Frank Smith of Lusk, and only son of Mr. and Mrs. Vernon E. Hulbert of 566 Buchanan Street, Twin Falls, Idaho, former Lusk Residents.

Hulbert was swept to his death over Shoshone falls in a water skiing accident, and plunged over the 212 foot brink of the falls as his wife and a group of relatives watched helplessly from the bank. The 32-year-old Navy veteran had driven to Twin Falls from Boise, to celebrate his birthday anniversary with his parents, who had remained at their home to arrange a party in his honor. Few of the holiday sightseerers, who were watching the falls roaring at its season peak of 18,500 second feet of water, were immediately aware of the accident.

Russell Wells, a brother-in-law of the victim was driving the inboard motor boat that was towing Hulbert, and stated that Hulbert took a spill, but surfaced immediately. Wells also said that Hulbert was a "tremendous" swimmer but that the suction and heavy current of water were too much for him. It is believed that he was swept around behind the large rock that divides the falls at the brink and to his death down the south side of the falls. It is estimated that Hulbert drifted about 75 feet before he knew he was in trouble, Wells said.

The fall was taken as Hulbert made a wide swing into the pier of the catwalk that spans the falls, Wells stated. After missing in his first attempt, Wells went into the fast water immediately above the falls and was within 20 to 25 feet of going over the power dam. During this time, Duke Whitehead, another brother-in-law, and his son, in a second boat made an unsuccessful attempt to reach Hulbert.

Sheriff James H. Benham began an immediate search below the falls for the victim's remains. Dozens of relatives and volunteers, together with sheriff's officers, state police and fish and game department employees scanned the river below the falls and have done so daily in a vain effort thus far, to recover the victim. Sheriff Benham believes the body may be located in the turbulent area directly below the falls where the churning water could prevent it from going downstream.

Both skis were located some distance downstream from the falls on the south bank.

According to records at the Idaho Power plant at Shoshone falls, Hulbert is the second person to have gone over the falls. The first was a halfbreed Cherokee Indian, Harry Wilson who dove off the 212 foot rock March 2, 1905. The feat was performed on the first day the falls had ever been dry, caused by water being shut off at Milner dam. Wilson landed in a whirlpool and swam to a rock. He incurred only a knee bruise described as "not serious".

Melverne Hulbert was born May 30, 1924, at Keeline, Wyoming, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Vernon E. Hulbert. He was graduated from high school at Twin Falls, Idaho. In 1942, he enrolled at Idaho State college but after a short while joined the navy. Discharged in 1946, he married Olive Wells, June 7, 1946. The couple moved to Boise, Idaho about four years ago.

Hulbert, shortly after his discharge from the navy, operated a Rollaway Grocery, a mobile establishment familiar to residents throughout Twin Falls. Later, he worked for the Clover Club Potato Chip company at Twin Falls, and accompanied the firm to Boise. At the time of his death, he was a salesman for Mountain States Wholesale Company.

Survivors in addition to his wife are three sons, Randy, Ricky and Ryan Hulbert, one daughter, Rochel Hulbert, all of Boise; his parents Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Hulbert, Twin Falls; two sisters Mrs. Claude Brown, Jr., and Miss Mickey Hubert, Twin Falls; his grandfather, Frank Smith of Lusk, also a cousin, Mrs. Jerry Hollon of Lusk, besides numerous other relatives. Mrs. Hollon was met in Cheyenne last evening (Wednesday) and brought to Lusk by her husband, after spending the past week at Twin Falls.

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