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Search suspended for teen presumed drowned in Snoqualmie River

EAST KING COUNTY, Wash. – The King County Sheriff’s Office on Monday afternoon suspended its search for a 16-year-old boy who fell into the Snoqualmie River on Sunday and disappeared under the water near Olallie State Park.

Dive crews scoured the Snoqualmie River searching for the teenager earlier Monday. The response by deputies was described as a recovery operation near North Bend on Monday.

“Sheriff’s Office dive teams as well as Eastside Fire and members of the King County Search and Rescue Unit spent the day searching the river for the teen but has run out of areas that can be safely searched,” Sgt. Cindi West said. “Before another search can be conducted river conditions will have to improve. Conditions are dangerous due to the increased flow of the river caused by the warm weather and snow melt.”

Deputies also worry they could see the scene repeat as summer heats up. While the rivers look like a great way to cool off, the cold temperatures and swift currents can be deadly, the King County Sheriff's Office said.

“This is obviously very time-consuming, dangerous, treacherous work,” said Sgt. Mark Rorvik, who is with the sheriff's Marine Rescue unit. “We’re doing the best we can, given the circumstances.”

The circumstances were grim. Dive crews carefully made their way into the river searching for signs of a teenage boy who went into the water Sunday afternoon but never came out.

The 16-year-old was with two friends cooling off near a dam. Two teens fell over the wall, but only one was able to pull himself out, the sheriff's office said.

“When you’re dealing with cold water and then you compound it with a current, it’s kind of a recipe for disaster,” added Rorvik.

The work for divers is also very dangerous; each carries about 80 pounds of gear.

Also, the snow melt from higher elevations means currents are quick and the water is cold, somewhere in the 40s.

It’s a dangerous combination, said Rorvik, especially for anyone who jumps in as the shock to your system could be deadly.

“When you jump into that water, you’re going to get that involuntary reflex where you’re going to gasp and you can’t control it. The air is just going to be sucked out of your lungs and if your head goes under, you’re going to inhale that water. It only takes a half a cup of water to drown you. If your head is underwater when you gasp like that, you will drown, you’ll go straight to the bottom. It’s not something you can fight and if you’re not wearing a life jacket you have no chance of survival.” he said.

The sheriff office's chopper made a pass over the river earlier Monday searching for clues but didn’t find any sign of the boy.

Dive teams searched through three pools downstream of the dam and planned to launch an inflatable boat to begin looking near the shore.