July 22, 2012 in City

In brief: Trapped rafter dies west of downtown

From Staff And Wire Reports

A rafter died after being trapped underwater by a log in the Spokane River for about an hour while rescue workers used chain saws to free him, officials say.

A man using a raft entered the water beneath the Sandifur Bridge west of downtown Spokane at about 1 p.m. Saturday and attempted to stay afloat by holding onto the log. Witnesses said he went underwater shortly, as rescue crews from the Spokane and Spokane Valley fire departments arrived.

Working from a boat, rescue workers attempted to cut away the log, which had pinned the man underwater, Spokane Fire Battalion Chief Bruce Moline said in a news release. After a “long process,” they eventually succeeded in cutting enough away to extricate the man.

The victim was transported to Deaconess Hospital, where he was declared dead, the Spokane Fire Department said via Twitter.

The Spokane Police Department is investigating the cause of the incident.

Fire officials urge people rafting and tubing on the river to wear life jackets.

“River current can be very tricky,” Moline said.

Tree falls on pickup in storm, kills man

A Walla Walla man was killed Friday at Priest Lake, Idaho, when a large tree fell on his pickup truck during stormy weather.

Gary E. Bierwagen, 66, was traveling on a private driveway on Pinto Point Road, along Indian Creek Bay, when the tree struck the roof of his 2007 Toyota Tundra at about 4:30 p.m., the Idaho State Police said.

Several trees in the area were falling due to a severe thunderstorm that swept through the Idaho Panhandle on Friday afternoon.

Electricity provider Northern Lights attributed outages across the Priest Lake area to damage from the storm, including more than 20 broken power poles.

Conservation group sues trailer park

MOSCOW, Idaho –The Idaho Conservation League has filed a lawsuit against a North Idaho trailer park claiming the park is discharging sewage into the South Fork of the Palouse River in violation of the Clean Water Act.

The lawsuit filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court alleges a sewage lagoon at Syringa Mobile Home Park east of Moscow overflows into the river when there is high runoff.

Attorney David Bricklin told the Lewiston Tribune the group is suing because the Environmental Protection Agency and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality don’t have the money to enforce anti-pollution laws.

The lawsuit said the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality received a permit application from the mobile home park in 2007, but the permit was never issued. Bricklin said such a permit would allow monitoring of any discharge into the river.

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