COLUMBIA, Mo. – A swift water rescue in Columbia, Missouri, turned deadly when the rescue boat capsized. Assistant Chief Matthew Tobben, Boone County Fire Protection District, had recently relocated to Boone County after serving in Union, Missouri, for a number of years.

“There were multiple water rescues going on at the same time. Hence why the Boone County Fire Department was called in to assist the Columbia Fire Department because they had crews on other water rescues already,” Assistant Chief Gale Blomenkamp, Boone County Fire Protection District, said.

Blomenkamp said a Columbia firefighter and Tobben jumped in a boat around 4:30 a.m. Monday for a rescue near Rangeline and Bear Creek.

“They were in the process of taking them to dry ground, obviously, when the boat lost power. They called for mayday. The boat capsized,” Blomenkamp said.

He said four people were thrown from the boat; three of them were rescued. Tobben never resurfaced.

“Chief Tobben got entangled and we found him about 40 or 50 feet from the boat where he had drowned,” Blomenkamp said.

Blomenkamp said Tobben is known across the state with a long list of credentials, having served as the Assistant Fire Chief in Union for a number of years before taking a new role in May with Boone County, teaching rescue boat operations.

“We lost a good one today, but the state of Missouri and the country lost another good one as well, because he’s been on many deployments and helped many people across this country,” Blomenkamp said.

Tobben had been part of Missouri Task Force 1 for 12 years, participating in countless water rescues, including one last Wednesday.

“There are a lot of people across this country and across the state that probably owe their lives to this man,” Blomenkamp said.

Tobben leaves behind a wife and their two young children. Blomenkamp said the department is asking for prayers for Tobben’s family.