Young man jumps from I-205 bridge

Search efforts in Columbia River unsuccessful

By John Branton and Craig Brown

Published:

Updated: October 13, 2011, 1:42 PM

 

Emergency responders in boats searched the Columbia River downstream of Interstate 205 on Thursday after a man was seen jumping from the bridge.

As of Thursday night, searchers had not located him.

The incident was reported about 10:20 a.m. A caller to 911 saw a young man jump from the bridge into the Columbia River. It was also witnessed by some fishermen on a boat in the river.

The scene of the incident is along the west shoulder of Interstate 205 southbound near the Washington shore.

A caller to The Columbian reported that he saw a young man with a backpack walking along the roadway about 10:15 a.m. He appeared to be sending a text message, the caller said.

The person apparently left a black backpack behind on the bridge.

Vancouver Fire Capt. Scott Willis said boats from the Vancouver and Portland fire departments, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Coast Guard searched but were unable to find the man.

The southbound right lane of the bridge was closed for a short time.

A Portland Fire Bureau news release noted the call came in just 11 minutes before a press conference was due to start spotlighting the area’s rising suicide rate, which is 35 percent greater than the national average.

Commenters on columbian.com have speculated the person who jumped was a student at Mountain View High School.

“That’s what we’re hearing, but we don’t have any confirmation, either,” said Carol Fenstermacher, spokeswoman for Evergreen Public Schools.

Mountain View students have the day off Friday as teachers get training during an in-service day. However, in the event the person who jumped was a student there, counselors will be at the school from 10 a.m. to noon and available for students who might want to stop by, Fenstermacher said.

The counselors are with the School Mobilization and Response Team, who are specially trained to deal with grief and other emotional situations.

About 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Trooper Ryan Tanner with the Washington State Patrol said the person had not been found.

WSP is leading the investigation because the incident happened on an Interstate bridge on the Washington side.

Tanner confirmed that officials found a backpack on the bridge. However, Tanner said the person’s identity hadn’t yet been confirmed.

John Branton: 360-735-4513 or john.branton@columbian.com.

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