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Crews use Gondola car for river rescue

Wed., Dec. 29, 2010, 2:58 p.m.

Spokane rescue crews responded to the Monroe Street Bridge about 2:40 p.m. today for a report of a man in the river. A car from the Riverfront Park Skyride, popularly known as the gondola, was used to bring him up from the river’s edge.

Patrons at the Spokane Public Library reported seeing the man in the river; by the time fire crews arrived at the bridge, he was out of the river and sitting on the bank, fire officials said. He was unable to climb up the hill, leaving crews to use a gondola car to rescue him.

Crews said the man appeared intoxicated and smelled of alcohol. He was taken to a local hospital and treated for minor hypothermia, a fire official said.

Witnesses said the man climbed the fence on the north side of the river and zigzagged down the steep slope, sliding most of the way. He sat at the river’s edge for 10 to 15 minutes before diving in to the river and swimming upstream toward the rapids, said the 911 caller, who did not want to be identified.

“It was the craziest thing,” he said.

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