Missing ferry passenger intentionally jumped, search called off
A passenger intentionally jumped off a ferry sailing across Puget Sound early today, prompting a massive search between Mukilteo and Clinton, authorities said.
Seattle Times staff reporter
A security camera aboard a ferry captured a man intentionally jumping into Puget Sound early Monday, prompting a massive, hours-long search between Mukilteo and Clinton, authorities said.
After search-and-rescue crews could not find the man — believed to be a 62-year-old Marysville resident — authorities called off the effort later Monday, Coast Guard and State Patrol officials said.
Throughout the day, state investigators were trying to confirm the man's identity using vehicle-registration information from a 1978 Chevrolet pickup found abandoned on the ferry Cathlamet and security footage from the ferry camera.
Investigators contacted relatives of the pickup's registered owner and showed them parts of the security footage. A spokeswoman for Washington State Ferries said the man's family "has viewed a still frame of security video and has identified the passenger."
The passenger's name is not being released at the request of the family, said State Ferries spokeswoman Marta Coursey.
"We have family members that believe it's their relative who jumped," said Sgt. Trent Cain, of the State Patrol's Homeland Security Division. "But, on the law-enforcement side, until there's a [body] recovery, we can't match the vehicle-registration information with the video footage of the man who jumped."
Authorities contacted the State Patrol and the Coast Guard after ferry workers found the pickup unattended on the Cathlamet when it arrived at the Clinton terminal on Whidbey Island about 12:40 a.m.
By 8 a.m., the Coast Guard had suspended the search.
As is standard protocol when potential missing persons or a "man overboard" case occurs, ferry personnel reviewed security footage, finding footage of a man approaching a railing on the vessel and jumping into the water, authorities said.
"The video clearly shows a person walks up to the railing alone, then jumps into the water," Cain said.
Security cameras are installed on all state ferries, primarily for reasons to do with homeland security, Coursey said.
"They are trained on areas we would be concerned about individuals trying to access, such as engine rooms," she said. "We can't say where they're installed because that would be a breach of security. But some are located in public-access areas and they capture the general comings and goings of passengers."
Monday's search of Puget Sound is the sixth in the past year prompted by suspicious circumstances aboard a ferry or in nearby water, according to Washington State Ferries officials.
• On June 22, a Spokane woman who has bipolar disorder left her car on the MV/Tacoma during a Seattle-to-Bainbridge Island run. She was found unharmed in the Seattle area three days later.
• June 10: A passenger aboard the MV/Wenatchee reported seeing what appeared to be a person in the water on the Seattle-to-Bainbridge run. The investigation determined the sighting was a log that had bright-colored debris attached.
• March 4: A search was launched after an unclaimed bicycle was found aboard the Wenatchee during the Seattle-to-Bainbridge run. The passenger was contacted by ferry officials two days later.
• Jan. 14: An unclaimed vehicle and personal belongings were discovered on the M/V Puyallup on the Seattle-to-Bainbridge run. The passenger, identified as Lynn Stafford-Yilmaz, was not found. The State Patrol "found no evidence that Stafford-Yilmaz disembarked the ferry at Bainbridge Island or Seattle, but also found no indication of criminal activity associated with the disappearance," according to a State Ferries news release. The case will be reopened if additional information becomes available.
• July 28, 2008: A passenger aboard the M/V Tacoma reported seeing of what appeared to be a person in the water during the Seattle-to-Bainbridge run. An investigation later found seals feeding on fish in the area.
Lewis Kamb: 206-464-2341 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 09:46 AM
Exxon Mobil wins ruling in Alaska oil spill case
NEW - 7:51 AM
Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife
Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom describes some of the factors that may have led to the collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon on Thursday, May 23.