Driver dies after car plunges into Columbia River

Divers say the victim made it to within 12 feet of shore, after escaping from his submerged car …

Just before sunrise, a Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office River Patrol boat is on-scene, after a car plunges into the Columbia River. Dick Harris photo

By David F. Ashton
More than one worried passerby called the 9-1-1 Dispatch Center early on October 8, having witnessed a car careen off NE Marine Drive in the Wilkes neighborhood of outer East Portland.

The calls came in at 6:24 a.m., according to Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson. “North Precinct officers responded to the 16600 block of Northeast Marine Drive.”

Firefighters bring in portable lighting to help rescue or recovery efforts. Dick Harris photo

There are no cross streets in that stretch of NE Marine Drive, just west of McGuire Island in the Columbia River.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and Portland Fire & Rescue responded with boats at approximately 7:00 a.m.

“Bystanders indicated that one man got out of the vehicle after it entered the water and began swimming to shore,” reported PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Damon Simmons.

Between the MCSO and PF&R boat, the faint outline of a white car is visible beneath the surface of the Columbia River. Dick Harris photo

The driver reportedly yelled that no one else was in the vehicle, Simmons added.

“The victim was located [underwater] approximately 12 feet from shore and was recovered by PF&R and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Deputies,” Simmons stated.

PPB Traffic Division investigators, and members of the East County Major Crash Team, arrived to gather evidence at the scene later that morning.

First responders recover the body of 47-year-old Nickolas Ralph Curtiss Jr. Dick Harris photo

“The deceased driver has been identified as 47-year-old Nickolas Ralph Curtiss Jr.,” Simpson later reported. “The cause of the crash remains under investigation.”

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Comments are closed.

© 2005-2021 David F. Ashton East PDX News™. All Rights Reserved.