UPDATE: Woman's body recovered from Little Washougal River

By John Branton and Paul Suarez

Published:

Updated: February 27, 2012, 7:32 PM

 

Washougal firefighters and a technical rescue team recovered a woman’s body from the Little Washougal River at midday Monday.

The incident began with a 911 call at 10:50 a.m. from a resident who lives off Blair Road about two miles up from the Washougal River Road.

Homeowner Ted Shaw said he was on his back deck, which overlooks the river, when he spotted the body in the water. It was slightly upstream from his home, and he didn’t think it was a body at first. But once it was confirmed, a neighbor called it in, he said.

Clark County Sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Shea said the fully clothed body was that of an adult female. It is unknown how long the body had been there, or where she might have come into the water, he said.

A caller contacted deputies to give them the possible name of the woman, Shea said. But officials can’t release it until they have confirmation, which could come Tuesday, and the family is notified.

Shea said the Clark County medical examiner will conduct an autopsy, likely Tuesday. He said the rescue team members who recovered the body didn’t report seeing any obvious sign of trauma.

If the autopsy doesn’t reveal an obvious cause of death, toxicology tests will be conducted. Those tests typically take several weeks.

The sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit will be investigating, which occurs anytime there is a homicide, suicide or fatal accident, he said.

Firefighters from East County Fire & Rescue, the Vancouver Fire Department, Clark County Fire District 6 and the Washougal Fire Department, along with members of the county dive team, were on the scene. Firefighters wearing insulated dry suits waded into knee-deep water to attach a pulley to the body and hoist it from the middle of the river.

The Little Washougal River’s swift current was more dangerous than its temperature, said Shea, who supervises the sheriff’s office Marine Patrol. Rescuers were able to take their time and work carefully, since it was obvious the woman was dead, he said.

The call that started the recovery effort was similar to one two weeks ago where a Washougal River homeowner thought she had spotted a man drowning in a popular fishing hole. In that case, deputies responded only to find a scuba diver who was face-down in the river, looking for fishing lures that could be resold on the Internet. He was not in distress and needed no assistance.

“The call was almost exactly the same as this one,” Shea said.