Rescue workers searching the Spokane River for a body Sunday learned at noon that the report was a lie.
“A lot of time, a lot of effort, and a false report,” said Kootenai County sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Soumas.
Deputies, a dive team, Post Falls police and local rescue crews rushed to the Spokane Street bridge at midnight when a man reported a white male falling into the water.
Soumas said the report came from a mentally disabled 19-year-old Post Falls man.
The man told police that he’d gotten into a fight on the bridge and knocked his attacker off into the river. The man’s torn shirt and a bruise on his cheek lent credence to the story, Soumas said.
But he said the man’s injuries didn’t suggest a knock-down, dragout brawl. Also, the bridge railing is chest-high to an adult, making it unlikely someone would flip over it into the water.
On Sunday morning, investigators brought the man to the search site. Seeing divers suiting up, two sheriff’s boats, police and rescue trucks, the man told deputies and a social worker that he’d made up the story.
“He was afraid of being in trouble for being late,” Soumas said. “He’s got a curfew.”
The man had been in a scuffle with someone, Soumas said, but not on the bridge.
“Nobody went in the water,” he said. Deputies turned the man over to his foster father.
Soumas said the sheriff’s department will turn the incident over to the prosecutor’s office for possible criminal or civil charges due to the false report.He said it’s too early to figure the cost of the search.”It’ll be in the thousands,” he said.