Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Rollover claims valley restaurateur

Authorities investigating circumstances leading to death of Fisher

Express Staff Writer

Mark Fisher and his horse Wildfire traveled thousands of miles in the Idaho backcountry, and also participated in local ski-joring association events. Photo by Willy Cook

The Blaine County Sheriff's Office is investigating circumstances leading to the death of a well-known Wood River Valley restaurant owner in a one-vehicle rollover late Saturday night east of Bellevue.

Mark Fisher, 41, the owner of Mama Inez restaurant in Bellevue, was an occupant in a red 1966 Toyota pickup that rolled around 11:30 p.m. five miles east of Bellevue on Muldoon Canyon Road. He was pinned underneath the vehicle and died at the scene, said a sheriff's office spokesman.

Randall L. Edgar, 50, of Bellevue, a second occupant of the vehicle, was admitted with head injuries to St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center, south of Ketchum. He was later released.

Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Jay Davis said officers are investigating who was driving the vehicle when the accident occurred. Edgar told officers that Fisher was the driver, but the vehicle is registered to Edgar, Davis said.

"The driver will be determined when the investigation is over," he said.

Officers are also investigating whether alcohol was involved in the accident. Davis said the investigation has shown that both men were reported to have been drinking earlier in the day.

Fisher is survived by his wife, Danette, and sons, Gavin, 17, and Gabriel, 11. A "celebration" of his life is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday at Bellevue Memorial Park. Burial is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, June 10, at Challis Cemetery. A memorial service is scheduled to follow at Challis City Park.

The sheriff's office investigation has determined that Fisher attended a wedding in Bellevue earlier on the day of the accident. He was reported to have met with friends at The Silver Dollar Saloon in Bellevue before leaving for Carey with Edgar. The two men then allegedly stopped at two bars in Carey before starting a return trip to Bellevue by way of Muldoon Canyon Road.

The vehicle apparently failed to negotiate a sharp turn five miles east of Bellevue and rolled over. Both men were thrown from the truck, but Fisher was pinned underneath. Neither man was wearing a seat belt, Davis said.

Edgar was walking away from the accident scene when he was picked up by another vehicle and taken to Bellevue, where he took a taxi to St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center.

Fisher was well known in the Wood River Valley. He and his wife established the Mama Inez Mexican restaurant in Ketchum in 1987. They moved the establishment to Bellevue in 2005 after purchasing the Glenn's Grocery building on Main Street.

He was active in promoting revitalization of the restaurant and bar business in Bellevue.

Fisher was an avid hunter, frequently outfitting horse and mule trips into the Idaho backcountry. He also was active in the Wood River Extreme Ski-Joring Association.

Longtime friend Willy Cook, a photographer for the Idaho Mountain Express, said Fisher had many friends throughout the Wood River Valley.

"The Mark Fisher that I will always fondly remember was a very good friend, an extremely successful businessman, a lovely family man and a righteous cowboy," Cook said.

Recently, Fisher was a part of what became known as the "Barmuda Triangle" in Bellevue. The term refers to the roughly triangle-shaped orientation of Bellevue establishments Mama Inez, Silver Dollar Saloon and Mahoney's Bar and Grill.

The owners of the three establishments formed the alliance to promote the growing number of food and drink options in Bellevue.

Pete Prekeges, the owner of Silver Dollar Saloon and a longtime friend and acquaintance of Fishers, said Fisher was the kind of guy who would help out a fellow restaurateur at a moment's notice. Prekeges, who also co-owns Grumpy's Burgers and Beer in Ketchum, was a business neighbor of Fisher's when Mama Inez was located in Ketchum.

If you needed 12 tomatoes, or something else, all you had to do was ask Fisher, Prekeges said.

"You could always go over to Mark and he'd take care of you," he said. "He would have given you the shirt off his back."

Fisher moved south to Bellevue before some other business operators felt comfortable doing so, Prekeges said.

"Mark was the only one with the guts to do it," he said.

Once other restaurateurs saw Fisher's success in Bellevue, they followed him, Prekeges said.

"That's what we did."

Prekeges said he expects a huge showing at Fisher's memorial service Friday in Bellevue.

"His personality will be missed in Bellevue," he said.

An obituary appears on Page A14 of the print edition of the June 7, 2006 Idaho Mountain Express

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