A 64-year-old Kennewick man and two teens survived being run over by a barge on the Snake River at about 5 a.m. Sunday after a night of fishing.
John King, chief operations deputy with the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office, said Robert McCollum, his 11-year-old grandson and a 16-year-old foreign exchange student were fishing roughly a half mile east of Ice Harbor Dam late Saturday.
The three became tired and fell asleep, King said, adding their 21-foot pontoon boat’s anchor did not hold and the boat drifted into shipping lanes on the river.
According to King, McCollum and his crew woke moments before a barge struck their aluminum boat.
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All three were thrown from the pontoon boat and sucked under the barge,“ King said, adding the two teens were able to swim to shore after surfacing.
King said the boat did not have its lights and the barge crew was unaware they had struck the boat until they were notified via radio.
“The boat itself was pretty mangled,” King said.
Deputies Jimmy Greco and Richard Schram responded to the area with patrol boat and located McCollum who was still treading water, according to King.
McCollum was taken to a local hospital were he was treated and released. King added that McCollum was not wearing a life vest.
“Everybody’s safe,” King said. “They were very lucky.”
King added deputies were able to recover the wrecked boat and much of the flotsam.