A 35-year-old Hoquiam man was attempting to elude the police when he plunged into the Hoquiam River on Wednesday morning. A search and rescue diver located a body presumed to be that of the man, though the body was unable to be immediately recovered. The incident began when Hoquiam police officers were dispatched at approximately 8 a.m. on Wednesday to a report of a suspicious vehicle in the area of Sanderling Drive and East Hoquiam Road. As an officer was on his way to the area, he recognized a 35-year-old Hoquiam man in the vicinity of Broadway Avenue.
The Hoquiam police had prior contact with the individual and were aware he had an outstanding felony warrant from the Department of Corrections. When the officer attempted to contact the man, he ran to the Hoquiam River and jumped in, attempting to swim across. The subject appeared to be wearing a heavy coat and backpack.
As the subject reached the middle of the river he grabbed onto a piling and held onto it for a time. The subject then pushed off of the piling and submerged into the water. Personnel on scene did not see the man resurface.
A search and rescue operation was initiated with vessels from the Cosmopolis Fire Department, Grays Harbor County Sheriff's Office, and civilians participating. A helicopter from the Coast Guard Station in Astoria was dispatched as well.
Authorities searched until 3 p.m. but were unable to locate the man.
The next day, Sept. 15, four volunteers with the Kitsap Underwater Search and Rescue Team responded to continue the search. The team was supported by two marine patrol deputies in a patrol boat from the Grays Harbor County Sheriff's Department.
The divers were confronted by strong currents and zero-visibility water. Due to the low visibility, the divers conducted the underwater search by hand.
A cadaver dog was brought in and rode up and down the river to no avail, but late in the afternoon the divers were attempting to check the base of the railroad bridge approach when one of the divers was swept out toward the channel with the strong outgoing tide where he located the body on the riverbed.
The diver was unable to raise the body to secure a line before the diver was swept downstream by the powerful current.
The Grays Harbor County Coroner's Office was notified and responded to the scene, but the divers had to wait until the currents lessened. With lesser currents the team searched again for approximately an hour before giving up the search. Poor visibility and debris along the bottom of the river continued to hamper the recovery efforts.
As of Friday, Sept. 16, there were no dive teams available. However, the Kitsap County Underwater Search and Rescue team was scheduled to return on Saturday to resume the search and recovery efforts.