Flooding Western Washington rivers claimed a second life when a dump truck driver drowned after his vehicle tumbled into the swollen Skagit River. But heavy rains that drenched the region eased Saturday, and rivers were cresting during the day.
The victim of the Friday night accident, Donald Jim Riedell, 47, had been helping to repair a flood-damaged railroad bridge between Mount Vernon and Burlington, about 60 miles north of Seattle. The Burlington man was pulled from his truck about an hour after it fell into the river, but pronounced dead at Skagit Valley Hospital in Mount Vernon, a nursing supervisor said.
Witness Kirk Garza said he heard Riedell’s cries for help.
“We heard someone in there as we were driving around with our windows rolled down and the man sounded very, very frantic,” Garza said.
The road where the accident occurred had been closed to traffic because of mud and silt on the road, Burlington Fire Chief John Pauls said Friday night. Elsewhere, Snohomish County emergency crews resumed their search Saturday for a missing duck hunter who is presumed drowned. Dean Savoy, 35, was swept away Wednesday in the Snoqualmie River near Monroe when his hip waders filled with water.
Savoy’s hunting companion, Dave Taylor, said he survived because he was able to get out of his waders and was pulled to safety by their Labrador, named Mariah.
The National Weather Service on Saturday canceled flood warnings for the Nooksack, Satsop and Skykomish rivers. Flood warnings remained in effect for the Skokomish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish and Skagit rivers, but the rivers were expected to crest by late Saturday.
The damaged railroad bridge where Riedell drowned is expected to reopen Thursday, said BN spokesman Gus Melonas.
The closure affects 10 freight trains a day and two Amtrak trains. The freight trains are being rerouted, while Amtrak passengers were being bused on the route between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia.
Also damaged were fiber-optic lines strung across the span for Skagit County’s 911 emergency telephone system. A GTE Northwest spokeswoman said the company was looking for an alternative route for the phone lines, which serve up to 50,000 customers in north Skagit and Whatcom counties.
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