Green River search continues for flooded car, occupants

  • BY Wire Service
  • Tuesday, November 11, 2008 2:23pm
  • News

The King County Sheriff’s office said Monday morning that with river flows dropping, it would mount aggressive efforts Monday and Tuesday to recover a car that plunged into the Green River Friday with two children inside.

Two boys, 13-year-old Austin Fuda and his 2-year-old cousin, Hunter Beaupre, were in the car driven by Fuda’s 16-year-old stepsister and remained missing over the weekend. Beaupre was reported to be belted into a child’s car seat.

Austin’s stepsister lost control of her Volkswagen Beetle and drove it off the Green River Road into the swollen, swift moving river just north of the Auburn Municipal Golf Course

Sgt. John Urquhart said the plan was to try to find the car Monday and pull it out Tuesday.

“The car may have been moved by the fast-flowing river over the weekend,” Urquhart said.

On Friday, Auburn Police, the Valley Regional Fire Authority and rescue workers from surrounding agencies had focused their search for the submerged car along the river bank and found a large metallic object at 11 a.m., more than two hours after a passerby called 911.

“We found something, but we can’t confirm what it is,” Auburn Regional Fire Authority Battalion Chief Dan Bosch said at the time. “We are working to extract it.”

Unsafe conditions hampered the recovery effort and the operation was suspended through the weekend. Because the accident occurred in unincorporated King County, the VRFA turned the recovery over to the King County Sheriff’s office and its dive team.

The girl was taken to Auburn Regional Medical Center, treated for her injuries and later released.

Bosch said VRFA personnel were on the scene within minutes of the call, which came in about 8:40 a.m

“I found the driver alongside of the road, clearly distraught,” Bosch said. “I had her show me where it was at.”

Bosch said the girl told him she had been able to get out of the vehicle and swim ashore to call for help. He said she had tried to re-enter the car to get the children out, but was swept away by the current about 80 feet from where the car entered.

“We had divers immediately dispatched,” Bosch said. “They were in the river within probably about 15 to 20 minutes, and we started a search operation. We were fighting a pretty strong current. There’s a lot of debris that are hampering our efforts.”

Kyle Ohashi, captain and public information officer for the Kent Fire Department, said conditions were dicey.

“We suspended the recovery operation because when we put divers in the water, the conditions were just not safe,” said Ohashi. “The water is moving too fast, they’re operating too deep, and the water is too murky for them to be able to safely hook onto the car. So we pulled the divers out and tried to do it from the shore, but we were unable to.

“We are going to coordinate with King County how best to go about recovering the car.”

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