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Gondola aids rescue of man near river

Thu., Dec. 30, 2010

Spokane rescue crews used a car from the Riverfront Park Skyride to bring a man up from the river’s edge near the Monroe Street Bridge on Wednesday afternoon.

Patrons at the Spokane Public Library reported seeing the man in the river. By the time fire crews arrived at the bridge, he was 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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