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Local man drives over the edge


With the laser light show flashing across Grand Coulee Dam in the background, Washington State Patrol leaders shine lights on and photograph a pickup (lower right) that went over the hill at the Riley Point overlook. - Scott Hunter photo

A local man drove over a steep embankment at an overlook just below Grand Coulee Dam Friday night, surviving a 200-foot plunge down the hill.

Christopher Coffey, 32, of Electric City, was ejected from the 2000 Toyota Tundra he was driving, ending up about 25 yards from the pickup, the Washington State Patrol and local police reported.

As he headed southbound on SR-155 just before 7:30, Coffey drove uphill through two fences and an aluminum street light pole before heading over the hill to the south of the parking lot.

Witnesses at the scene told Grand Coulee Officer Joseph Higgs that the pickup "drove straight off the cliff."

At the scene, no tracks were visible on the hillside lit by the floodlights of a Bureau of Reclamation fire truck about 9 p.m., suggesting the pickup at the bottom may not have touched the ground on the way down, a drop of 200 feet.

Higgs had seen it happen from his vantage point on the top of the dam several hundred feet across a ravine, where he was on patrol. He immediately called for ambulance and fire crews and other officers before driving to the pullout knows as Riley Point, then heading down the hill on foot.

He found Coffey conscious and groaning, and before long, able to speak.

Emergency medical services personnel used a Sked rescue system to get Coffey to a waiting ambulance.

The driver was taken to Coulee Medical Center, then flown to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

A Sacred Heart nurse reported that Coffey was in stable condition Saturday morning.

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