Swiftwater Rescue of Teens Trapped In Vehicle

Tour Commander, 509.625.7100

Tuesday, April 12, 2022 at 10:15 a.m.

On Monday, April 11, at 8:20 PM, the Spokane Fire Department (SFD) was dispatched to a report of a passenger vehicle that drove at high speed into the Spokane River near the 2800 Block of East Upriver Drive. The car was reported to be submerged and containing five occupants.

A special operations response was dispatched by FireComm that included resources from the SFD's Water Rescue Team and several companies to support the incident's needs, including rescue, extrication, and providing paramedic-level care and treatment to the victims and potential responders.

SFD companies were on-scene in four minutes and located several victims in the water. The Spokane River flow was approximately 12,900 cubic feet per second, making water entry extremely dangerous even for trained professionals.

Witnesses and police officers also attempting to assist in the rescue were operating in and around the water, supporting the initial operations. 

Mechanical extrication was not needed as the damage to the vehicle allowed accommodated rapid exit from the car. Patients were removed to the bank, and SFD Paramedics immediately began treating them.

Two of the victims were transported to the hospital, one with critical injuries and the other with minor injuries. The remaining occupants (minors) were treated on-scene by SFD Paramedics and not transported. Additionally, several witnesses and bystanders were assisted by SFD personnel in maintaining warmth and returning home.

SFD cross-staffs a Water Rescue Team from two fire stations that include rescue technicians capable of working from the water's surface, bank, and boat in the most austere of conditions. The team's compliment includes rescue swimmers and qualified Paramedics so that life-saving treatment can begin anywhere the team is deployed.

SPD is the authority managing the investigation and this will be the final release from SFD regarding the incident.