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Man spends weekend on thin ice in Great Falls - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Man spends weekend on thin ice in Great Falls

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GREAT FALLS - A man who stayed on the icy Missouri River near the Central Avenue bridge for nearly 48 hours spoke to Great Falls Fire Rescue officials on Sunday afternoon.

According to Battalion Chief Bob Shupe, the man whose first name is Ben, asked for an AM/FM radio and to call a friend. Shupe said officials allowed him to make a phone call and a retired firefighter brought him a hot meal.

Shupe added that he offered the man his own tent and sleeping bag but the man refused. He eventually returned to the ice. As of 5:30 p.m., officials were unable to locate him.

 Ryan Villines has created a GoFundMe page for Ben. It reads in part:

Ben says that he is originally from Arkansas, and that he made his way to Great Falls about five months ago. He said he knows a few people in town, and has/had a job, and even perhaps a girlfriend, but that things have gone downhill and that has led to him living homelessly around town. He recently built himself a shelter and a small camp of sorts near where Central Ave crosses the Missouri River (That many of us took note of for it's eccentric vibrancy), and spent part of his days making drawings in the snow and the ice that he knew many of would enjoy seeing, but he claims that he was recently harassed by people and police to the point that he was forced to move from his encampment, and the only "Home" he knew. He was so disappointed when told that he was going to have to abandon the area that he took what few items he needed strictly to survive, moved out into the middle of the frozen river where nobody would bother him, and burned his prior encampment down. Thus the frozen rivertop is where he sits today.

Late Sunday evening, Shupe told MTN News that Ben is staying in a hotel for the night, and believes that a Great Falls couple paid for the room.

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