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FEATURE NEWS

Man’s Body Recovered From Skykomish River Near Gold Bar
Fourth drowning in back country
rivers near waterfalls this year

June 06, 2018




Area of Big Eddy along the Skykomish River seen here in high, rough water during the winter. Sky Valley Chronicle photo.
Chronicle staff

(GOLD BAR, WA.) – Same river, second body in nine days. Same area of river, second body in six months. To say the mighty Skykomish River is a dangerous piece of business would be not be doing justice to the word dangerous.

If you end up in the Skykomish this time of year at the right spots, your odds of survival are iffy at best. And it does not matter how strong a swimmer you think you are.

The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office and Snohomish County Fire Districts 26 and 7 recovered the body of a man from the Skykomish, downstream from an area of the river called Big Eddy. The Big Eddy is a popular picnic area/swimming hole during the blazing hot days of summer. It’s located just up the road from Gold Bar and off State Route 2.

The sheriff’s office says the man is believed to have been a transient from the Gold Bar/Sultan area and was in his 30's. 

“Earlier in the day, patrol responded to several 911 calls from witnesses reporting a man acting erratically and trespassing in the area,” said Shari Ireton, Director of Communications for the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office. “When patrol units arrived, the man jumped into the back of one of the patrol pickups twice. After talking with man and assessing that he was not a threat to others, the man left the area around 2 p.m.”

Then later, about 4:30 pm some people at the Big Eddy site called 911 to report that they’d seen the same man jumping into the water and drifting downstream, “appearing to be in distress.”

Patrol, SAR (search and rescue) divers as well as local fire agencies arrived and the Sheriff's Office helicopter, SnoHAWK1, flew overhead. That’s a lot of resources on scene at one time. The response aptly demonstrates how seriously county agencies take the matter when they hear of somebody in trouble in the Skykomish.

The body of the man was located around 5:30 pm downstream from Big Eddy and was recovered from the river. Identification of the man, as well as cause and manner of death, will be determined by the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office.

The Skykomish kills its share of human beings

The sheriff’s office says this is the fourth drowning incident in back country rivers near waterfalls this year. And it’s the second drowning death on the Skykomish in nine days. On May 28th, a 24 year-old Monroe man went missing at Eagle Falls on the river and his body was recovered June 2.

On April 24th, a 30 year-old Bothell woman went into the water at Wallace Falls State Park, also in the same general area in the county, and her body was recovered the same day. On April 12th, a 22 year-old Monroe woman went into the water at Cedar Ponds, located in the woods near Sultan and her body was recovered on April 21st.

But that Big Eddy portion of the river, it’s something all right. Just six months ago the body of a 44-year old homeless man was found on a Monday morning, January 1st by a relative not far from the Big Eddy park area,.

The sheriff's office said the unidentified relative went looking for the man after not hearing from him for several days. Prior to that the last body found in or near the Skykomish in that same upper Sky Valley valley area was back in early July of 2017.

The Chronicle reported then that the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office had taken custody of a man's body that was found floating Saturday July 1st in the Skykomish up near Index, which is east on Highway 2 past Gold Bar.

In June two people were swept away by the fast moving river over Sunset Falls in Index. One was a 49-year old man from Seattle and the other a 25-year old woman visiting from Texas. Their bodies, as of that Saturday in July had not been recovered.

On April 20th of this year, the Sky Valley Chronicle ran a piece about the dangers of state rivers and lakes this time of year called They Went Onto The River And It Was Supposed To Be Fun And Then They Died .

If you’re thinking about any river swims or rafting trips this early in the season – on your own, not the professional guided variety – we urge you to read it.

Might save your life, who knows?

Oh. One final note from the sheriff’s office: “Response to backcountry rescue and recovery efforts can be extremely dangerous and put rescue personnel and volunteers at risk. Swimming in Snohomish County rivers, especially near waterfalls, is not recommended due to swift currents, hidden snags/drop-offs and cold water temperatures, even for those who consider themselves to be strong swimmers.”





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