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Missing Tri-Cities teen was to graduate next week

Searching Yakima River for missing teen

Columbia Basin Dive Rescue team searches the Yakima River for missing Hanford High School senior near the Highway 240 bridges in Richland.
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Columbia Basin Dive Rescue team searches the Yakima River for missing Hanford High School senior near the Highway 240 bridges in Richland.

The search will resume Wednesday for a Hanford High School senior missing in the Yakima River just days before he would have graduated.

Dmetri Kennedy-Woody, 18, was among four people who reportedly jumped off the railroad bridge above the Yakima River near Highway 240 on Memorial Day.

Three of the people made it out of the water near the confluence of the Yakima and Columbia rivers. Kennedy-Woody apparently did not resurface.

Kennedy-Woody, of West Richland, played football and baseball. He was an honorable mention all-Mid-Columbia Conference wide receiver, and a second-team outfielder his senior season.

The Hanford football team plans to gather at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Hanford High football field to remember Kennedy-Woody. Students and friends are welcome.

An announcement that he was missing was sent to Hanford High students and staff Tuesday.

Counselors were available to speak with students at the high school in Richland.

Columbia Basin Dive Rescue had two boats on the water and a diver in the river Tuesday morning. Crews searched for several hours before they made plans to return on Wednesday, according to the Richland Police Department.

The bridge, owned by the Port of Benton and operated by Tri-City Railroad Co., is 20 feet high at the tracks.

Rusty Bell, director of operations for Columbia Basin Dive Rescue, said the organization does not know what happened, but jumping off the bridge, which is illegal, could knock the wind out of a person.

The Yakima River at the bridge also has a lot of naturally occurring eddy currents, plus eddies around the bridge pylons that can be treacherous, he said. Water may swirl and move in unexpected directions.

There tends to be debris — wood and brush — in the river in the spring, he said.

The level of the Yakima River also fluctuates during spring. It was fairly high on Memorial Day, about 7 feet deep at the Kiona gauge, the closest one upriver.

The water level has dropped about a foot since then, according to the National Weather Service.

The Port of Benton and the railroad company issued a joint statement on Tuesday saying they "are saddened by the loss of life that has occurred and extend our condolences to the family."

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