June 2, 2009

Man who left raft on Spokane River turns up safe

Spokane fire officials had launched a search Monday
By The Spokesman-Review
 

A rafter who left his craft unattended after it flipped Monday on the Spokane River turned up safe — after authorities launched a full-scale search for someone missing in the water.

The Spokane Fire Department on Monday morning launched a two-hour search in the Bowl and Pitcher area of Riverside State Park, dispatching its technical rescue team, two engine companies, a rescue unit and a mutual aid rig from county Fire District 9. Officials also called in a medical helicopter.

The boater, who officials did not identify, meanwhile telephoned the county’s Department of Emergency Management’s marine division and left a voicemail explaining he had left the raft behind on the river. Authorities learned he swam to shore, abandoning the craft so he could go to work, according to Spokane fire officials.

No charges were filed. The man had no intention of creating an unnecessary search, and he apologized for the mix up, officials said.

Fast-moving water and debri are creating hazards on the river. Miles upstream, Spokane Valley firefighters on Sunday rescued a woman who became wedged under a bridge.

Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said the incident underlines the importance of letting another person know about planned outdoor outings in case of an emergency. If an unexpected situation arises, such as needing to abandon a raft, communicate directly with emergency agencies, he said.


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