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Updated 3:10pm - Apr 16, 2014
Updated 3:46pm - Apr 15, 2014

Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Tourist missing in Smith River

Tourist missing in Smith River

By Nicholas Grube

Triplicate staff writer

Search and rescue teams are searching for a tourist who fell Thursday into the Smith River.

The man, 56-year-old Robert Woodman, of Tulelake, was reported missing by his wife, Velma, when he did not return from his morning fishing expedition.

The Del Norte County Sheriff's Office sent search and rescue teams to the river Thursday evening and Friday during the day but were unsuccessful at locating Woodman.

The Sheriff's Office received a 911 call from two fishermen Friday evening saying they saw Woodman's body floating downstream, a couple of feet beneath the surface. As of press time, rescuers had not found Woodman's body, and said that they would resume searching at daylight today.

Before receiving the phone call from the fishermen, officials would not say whether Woodman was presumed dead or alive, but they expected the worst.

"The probability of survival is zero," Sher-iff's Office Operations Commander Tim Athey said. He added that "probability of surviv-al" rates are figures based on a U.S. Coast Guard equation that factors in variables such as, water temperature, time and the type of water (fresh or salt).

However, he did not express much hope.

"We're looking at this as a recovery rather than a rescue," he said.

Woodman's equipment was found on a rock landing on the river near on U.S. Hwy. 199 mile marker 8.15 past Hiouchi and believe this is the area where he fell in. He was fishing alone, wearing rain gear and rubber boots. He was last seen 1 p.m. by another fisherman

If Woodman is found dead, he would be the second angler this year to die in the Smith River. Chester Bolen, of Crescent City, died in early January after his boat was dragged underwater and he was swept away by the current.

"Two in two months is a little too much," said Peggy Thomas, the assistant coordinator for the Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue. "It's a good point for people to wear life vests."

In both Bolen and Woodman's case, neither were wearing flotation devices – a fact that both Thomas and Athey said would have greatly improve the fishermen's probability of survival.

"Unfortunately, given the river that we have, when you go into a current like that," Thomas said while shaking her head.

"It's a gorgeous river," Athey added, "but it's dangerous."

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Online updates

If breaking news occurs in the search during the weekend, it will be posted online.

 


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