OROVILLE — An abandoned vehicle has been removed from the Similkameen River after a local man reported it to authorities earlier this year.
“While out walking my dog at the Similkameen campground (entrance at Loomis-Oroville milepost 28.65), I reached the west end of it and spotted a red dot up-river some 600 yards away,” said the man who asked that his name not be published. “Using my binoculars, I found it to be a red car. A car in any water source is unusual. It was in an obscure location, not likely to be seen unless you were looking for it. I considered it an exigent circumstance and investigated immediately.”
He said he reached the vehicle and discovered it to be a Subaru Justy, “filled with river-run debris” and “no body or evidence of a crime.”
Snapping pictures of the vehicle and the VIN plate, he then notified the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office and a deputy arrive to investigate.
“He (the deputy) called me to say that the car had been there for some 20 years,” the reporting party said. “It was there when he was a boy.”
“The car was in too good of condition to be in the river for 20 years,” he said. “I was not satisfied. Using Google Earth satellite images, I discovered that on July 14, 2017, the car was not in the river, but was well away from it. I also looked up the VIN and found the car was a 1991.”
Using the Okanogan County Assessor’s Office website parcel map, he discovered the parcel fronting the river, where the car was originally sitting, was private property. He then contacted the state Department of Ecology because of concerns of pollutants from the vehicle draining into the river.
Ecology then told the man that Okanogan County Emergency Management had been asked to organize removal of the vehicle.
“Ecology called me,” Okanogan County Emergency Manager Maurice Goodall said. “We had a deputy go up there. It’s on private property, which is owned by DNR. It’s below the high water mark, so that makes it river property with access via private property.”
Goodall said one of the initial issues was figuring out who would pay for the removal, but the state Department of Natural Resources agreed to cover the costs.
“It’s not a hazard,” Goodall said, noting the amount of time the car has been there. “People are not looking at it saying, ‘Hey, it’s a crash.’ We received a call from one person.”
Goodall noted the car is “just not a high priority,” but “we are taking care of it.”
On Monday, Goodall reported the vehicle had been removed.