Fallen officer remembered through boat race at Boatnik Festival

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — A fallen local law enforcement officer is remembered every year during the annual Boatnik Festival in Grants Pass.

Tom Rice was a marine deputy with the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office when he was killed in a helicopter accident on May 23, 2002.  He is remembered through the ‘Tom Rice Memorial White Water Hydroplane Race.”

“You know you just never forget your fallen,” Sheriff Dave Daniel with the Josephine Co. Sheriff’s office said.

Deputy Rice was conducting a search and rescue mission for an elderly woman in the Rogue River when the helicopter struck a wire just downstream from the OK Corral.

“He was a great man…Tom Rice was basically a mentor to me,” said Sheriff Daniel. “The kind of deputy that a lot of people envision seeing themselves being.”

A memorial plaque honoring Deputy Rice is installed a few hundred feet up from the Robertson Bridge boat ramp at the OK Corral.

“Boatnik having their boat race dedicated in his name is an honor,” said Sheriff Daniel.

“He was an all-around good guy, a good friend to everybody, worked really really hard to make Boatnik a success,” Active Club member Randy Brown said.  “It just keeps his memory alive with the club and the community.”

The Tom Rice Memorial White Water Hydroplane Race begins Monday at 1 p.m. at Riverside Park.

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