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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

Bridge incident was a false alarm

 

Scott Hunter

A corgy dog listens closely as emergency workers attend to a family member near the bridge.

All those at the scene of what could have been a horrific tragedy Saturday evening, at the Columbia River Bridge in Coulee Dam, were greatly relieved when it wasn’t.

Viewed from the bridge, a woman on the road far below near the river was screaming the name of her teenage daughter, apparently convinced she’d fallen from the bridge.

After a passerby called 911 about 6:20, police and first responder emergency crews arrived, trying to help, assessing the situation. Searchers were watching the shoreline as far north as past Elmer City. There was talk of using an emergency medical helicopter to fly the shoreline in a search.

The family corgi, tied to a bench near the east end of the bridge, began to howl.

But then the girl’s grandfather approached authorities on the bridge and explained that the girl was OK, and was standing just off the bridge. It was all a misunderstanding.

The family, from Richland, had taken a walk from the grandfather’s home on Fir Street, the girl who’d been assumed missing explained to police. On their way back from Cole Park in Coulee Dam, she fell behind the others while reading the signs along the bridge walkway that explain the history of the area and the dam. When she realized she’d completely lost sight of them, she returned to her grandfather’s home. Then they heard all the sirens and were told of the search.

Perhaps that’s the kind of misunderstanding every worried parent of a teenager, past or present, can envision — one for which everyone at the scene was likely very grateful.

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