Update: Search fails to find swimmer feared missing

Emergency responders converge near Wintler Park

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian Breaking News Reporter



Emergency responders unsuccessfully searched Friday afternoon in the Columbia River downstream of Wintler Park after witnesses spotted a swimmer who might have been in trouble.

Debbie Dickson was at the park with her 10-year-old granddaughter, Brenna Snider, when she saw a man get into the river and float downstream.

The man, whom Dickson described as being older, bald and with sandals tied to the waistband of his blue swim shorts, never showed signs of distress.

He floated downstream and the two kept watching him, sure that he would get out at a nearby eddy. Then, they couldn’t see him anymore.

“We just never saw him get out,” she said. “He was just letting the current take him and then we lost sight of him.”

She sent Brenna to have someone call 911 just before 2 p.m.

Vancouver firefighters and police officers responded and searched the shoreline while four rescue boats searched the river. Two boats from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and one each from the Vancouver Fire Department and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office responded and searched as far downstream as Marine Park.

“He could have just as easily climbed out on the bank. … It’s really an unknown,” said Vancouver Fire Capt. Jarl Peterson. “Right now we don’t have a lot to go on. I want to believe he got out.”

Firefighters searched for about two hours, but did not locate anyone, said Deputy Chief Dan Olson. The sheriff’s office Marine Patrol unit continued searching Friday evening.