Slipped into Metolius River

by: JESSICA NOACK - The Metolius River is wide and swift at Bridge 99, near Camp Sherman.The body of a Corvallis man, who had slipped and fallen into the Metolius River on May 26, was recovered by searchers the following afternoon.

Isamu (Sam) Furuichi, 62, a sushi chef from Corvallis, was fishing with his wife near Bridge 99 in the Camp Sherman area on Memorial Day, when he stumbled and fell into the swiftly moving river.

"His wife watched him go in," said Capt. Marc Heckathorn, of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, who noted that Furuichi was wearing neoprene chest waders, but no life jacket. "He slipped down, got up, and slipped again into a deeper section," said Heckathorn, stressing the importance of wearing a life jacket of some type.

Crews from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and Search and Rescue began searching for Furuichi soon after his wife reported the incident at 3:40 p.m. May 26, and were joined by a team from Deschutes County Search and Rescue in the early evening, and continued searching until about 10 p.m.

The following morning, they resumed the search at 9 a.m., with ground crews searching along the shoreline, a Life Flight helicopter searching by air, and a kayak team searching in the river.

"Life Flight allowed one of the Deschutes County Search and Rescue to fly with him," said Heckathorn, pointing out that the river is designated as a Wild and Scenic River. "They needed to have a better understanding of what that section looked like."

The Deschutes County Search and Rescue Swift Water Team of four kayakers searched and found Furuichi about 2.3 miles downriver from where he initially fell in.

"Once that water team got in the water, they found him in about 30 minutes," said Heckathorn, adding that Furuichi was still wearing his chest waders. "He was snagged and held under water and wedged into some hazards. It took another hour to get him removed."

His body was transported to Bel-Air Colonial Funeral Home in Madras. Alcohol and drugs were not considered a factor in the accident.

JCSO Search and Rescue coordinator Dave Blann said that the search was a team effort. "Without the help from our partners at the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office providing their swift water rescue team and Life Flight helping in the search, things may not have ended so quickly," he said.

"This is a tragic ending to a day of fishing," said Heckathorn, reminding people that inflatable lifejackets are an important option for fisherman. "They don't get in your way."

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