Palouse Falls closed until body of missing swimmer is found
FRANKLIN COUNTY, Wash. – Palouse Falls State Park is now closed until further notice as the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and Dive and Rescue continue their recovery efforts after a swimmer went missing over the weekend.
The iconic waterfall at Palouse Falls State Park lures hundreds of thousands of tourists and visitors every year.
"This time of year Palouse Falls is beautiful, but it's at its highest volume of water capacity coming over the falls because of the run offs," Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond said.
Sheriff Raymond said one of three swimmers at Palouse Falls over the weekend was likely pulled down by the powerful force of the nearly 200 ft. waterfall and he couldn't resurface.
Authorities with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office still haven't found the 23-year-old Colville man's body after he went missing Saturday around 5:30 p.m.
"It was determined late yesterday, that it was just too dangerous and so all of those operations have been suspended,” Sheriff Raymond said.
Franklin County Deputies and Dive and Recue searched for hours on Saturday and Sunday; however, according to officials, the raging current is too treacherous for rescue divers.
"You get in that water, it's very murky, there's undertows because of the volume of water that's coming over the falls,” Sheriff Raymond said. “Plus, it's not uncommon when you get down there that there's big boulders rolling, so it's too much of a risk right now."
The Sherriff said rescue crews are waiting for the victim’s body to resurface. The park is closed to the public until their recovery efforts are complete.
This fatal accident comes less than a year after a Spokane man slipped off a cliff at Palouse Falls and died. The man fell off a ledge while taking a selfie with a young woman with whom he was visiting the park, according to authorities.
The Sheriff encourages people to enjoy mother nature and our parks, but shares a reminder that a place like Palouse is dangerous.
"View it, take it in, but probably stay out of the water," Sheriff Raymond said. "It's important to remember that you have family members and you have people who care about you and ultimately those things will impact those families."
State park officials also want to stress how dangerous it is to swim in the plunge pool. They said the water is very cold, rough and muddy. They advise visitors to stay in designated viewing areas.
The Sheriff and state park officials want the family and friends of the victim to know that their hearts go out to them.