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Search and rescue

May 1, 2010
Helicopter searches river

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter searches the river below Miller Island after a boat capsized in the rolling whitecaps. Copyright Mark B. Gibson/The Dalles Chronicle

This photograph was taken from the cliffs above Wishram, Washington, looking upriver as a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter out of Astoria searches an ever-widening area for a missing boater Friday morning, April 30, 2010. The wind was so strong I had trouble standing still enough to look through the viewfinder, and I ended up kneeling against a highway guard rail and bracing my monopod against a post.

I always have mixed feelings about this sort of news assignment. Part of me loves the excitement, in a guilty “just doing my job” sort of way. Another part starts imagining horrible scenarios and outcomes, grieving for the unknown dead and their families and running through the faces of those I know might have had reason to be on the river.

As I write this, later the same afternoon, very little is known; four in the boat, at least one survivor, and one still missing. That’s it, the rest is rumor and conjecture. Plenty of space in that for the imagination to run wild, now that the excitement of the day is over.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Clytie permalink
    May 1, 2010 18:11

    This was on the news this morning. So sad. They have suspended the search.

    The one survivor SWAM to shore, then ran 2 MILES to get help. All this after being thrown from a capsized boat on a windy day in a huge river. A remarkable man.

  2. May 2, 2010 03:09

    Wow–I hadn’t heard of this. Haven’t been watching the news so much lately. How awful for the man who survived. How terrible for the families who’ve lost someone. I imagine since you’ve lived there for a time, you would know many of the people who might be out on the river.

    I hope it’s no one you know.

    It took me a moment to digest this picture. At first my eye saw a bit of burlap lying in the middle of a path. Then at closer glance, I realized it was a helicopter flying over the Columbia.

    Beautiful picture–though sad–I can see why you would have mixed feelings.

  3. May 4, 2010 17:31


  4. Mint permalink
    May 5, 2010 01:24

    Sad as this one is. The picture is very good, I can almost feel how cold that water is…. Bless the Coast Guard!

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