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Search called off for teen who fell in river

Thu., July 7, 2011, 9:58 p.m.

The search has been called off for a 17-year-old boy who fell into the Spokane River west of Liberty Lake.

“At this point, we think it’s going to transition from a rescue to a recovery operation,” said Andy Hail, deputy chief of the Spokane Valley Fire Department. “We’re very hopeful for a recovery, but the chances are diminishing quickly. The darker it gets, the less chance we have to find this person.”

The boy was floating the river with his brother and two friends when his inner tube tipped about 1/4 mile east of the Harvard Road bridge. It took his party about 20 minutes to get to shore and call 911, which they did about 8:15 p.m.

Crews scoured the area from Harvard Bridge to Upriver Dam, but found no sign of the missing teen.

He was not wearing a flotation device.

Hail said it appears the boy may have hit his head on something then went under. He urged caution for those seeking to recreate on the river.

“It’s a challenging environment,” Hail said. “People need to be wearing a personal flotation device or they have no business being on the river.”

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