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Victim’s family, friends hold vigil below bridge

William P. Pickard, 38, was found dead below the Sunset Bridge in late June.
William P. Pickard, 38, was found dead below the Sunset Bridge in late June.

Balloons released amid candlelight ceremony

On what would have been Bill Pickard’s 39th birthday, his family and friends stood below the bridge where he was hurled to his death in late June.

On Friday evening, they shared stories of the man who taught their children how to dive, who bargained with car salesmen for their dream rides, and who water-skied with them on the lake. They propped his picture against the trees and circled around rocks spray-painted with “We love you Bill,” telling their stories over candlelight.

They also shared that they hoped their gathering proved how many people loved Pickard, and the need for police to continue to investigate his mysterious death.

On Wednesday, the Spokane County medical examiner updated a report that Pickard died from “blunt injuries of the head, trunk and extremities,” meaning he was alive when he was thrown from Sunset Bridge.

“It’s such a cruel way for someone to lose their life. It’s one thing to be sick, and it’s another for someone else to make the decision,” said Tait Burns, Pickard’s brother.

Burns said he knows evidence is still being tested, and detectives are investigating suspects. Burns said he is anxious for the investigation to be over.

A longtime friend of Pickard’s, Jasen Baril, said the police detective working on the case was injured at work recently but should be back on the case next week.

“All we can hope is that the investigation keeps rolling. We want answers,” Baril said.

Baril said he is sure that the murder took some planning, because it wouldn’t be easy to drag a person over the concrete barriers that line the bridge.

Some of the few clues left behind the night Pickard died include his car, which was found on the 1500 block of West Glass Avenue. Police found a fingerprint that they deduced belonged to a family friend, according to previous reports.

Also, Pickard’s methadone prescription, which a friend said he used to “help wean him off other drugs,” disappeared at the time of his death. Pickard had aspirations of becoming a substance abuse counselor.

Family and friends released 39 colorful balloons that floated toward the ornate pillars of the bridge.

If Pickard could have celebrated his birthday, Burns said, he probably would have wanted to go water skiing.

“We spent lots of years water skiing when we were growing up,” Burns said. “It was a big deal when Bill got to go to the lake.”