WALLACE, Idaho — A southwestern Idaho man whose fringe run for Idaho governor resulted in a Republican primary debate that drew national attention has been rescued near a wildfire in northern Idaho, but his wife has been found dead.
The Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office said it’s investigating following the rescue of 79-year-old Walt Bayes of Emmett on Tuesday.
Capt. Jeremy Groves said Thursday that Bayes was flown out of the remote area by helicopter to the Red Ives Cabin on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests where he declined medical attention.
Searchers later found the body of 74-year-old Virginia Bayes in the remote area. Groves said her body has been turned over to the Shoshone County medical examiner in Kellogg and an autopsy is planned. Officials didn’t release a cause of death.
Groves said there’s an active investigation and declined to release some details, such as whether Virginia Beyes’ body was found in the wildfire area. It’s not clear how much information Walt Beyes provided to authorities.
“He was contacted on the first evening when he was extracted,” Groves said. “Health-wise, he was in good shape.”
Groves said the wildfire was about 30 acres (12 hectares) in size.
The U.S. Forest Service is investigating the cause of the wildfire. Idaho Panhandle National Forests spokeswoman Shoshana Cooper didn’t return a call from The Associated Press on Thursday.
Walt Bayes, notable for his bushy white beard and far right views, along with another fringe candidate named Harley Brown stole the show from Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and then-state Sen. Russ Fulcher in a 2014 primary debate viewed as over the top even by Gem State standards.
Bayes spent time criticizing the federal government as “a bunch of Eastern idiots” and boasting about killing a wolf that was classified as an endangered species at the time. He also promised to prohibit abortion, saying “if the Supreme Court goes to hell, I’m not following them.”
Brown cited discrimination against motorcycle clubs and problems with political correctness.
Otter told Idaho Public Television officials that unless Bayes and Brown were allowed to debate, he would not participate either. Fulcher supporters said the move was a stunt intended to avoid tough questions.
Otter went on to win the Republican primary that spring and in the fall of 2014 won a third term as Idaho governor.
Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com