Semi goes off Highway 97, down an embankment and into the Columbia River


A semi on Highway 97 north of Orondo went off the roadway early this morning, through a guardrail, down an embankment and into the Columbia River.

Crews are out today trying to pull the partially submerged tractor trailer from the river.

The driver of the semi, Conda Reddy, 71, was able to make his way to shore where he was then brought up a steep embankment by Douglas County Fire District 4 crews using high angle rescue rope techniques and a basket stretcher.

Chelan County Sheriff’s Office photo

Reddy was transported to Lake Chelan Community Hospital, where he was being treated for a concussion, the Washington State Patrol said.

About 1:14 a.m., a motorist noticed rocks in the roadway about eight miles south of the Beebe Bridge, according to Fire District 4.

The State Patrol said witnesses reported hearing someone shouting for help from a rocky area along the river’s edge. The trooper arrived to find the semi in the river.

“We didn’t know initially if there was another person in there, or any cargo,” said Trooper John Bryant. “They were later able to confirm he was the only occupant of the vehicle and there was no cargo in there.”

The fire district said it’s believed Reddy was on his way to Brewster to pick up fruit.

Bryant said they haven’t determined yet what caused Reddy to drive off the highway.

The northbound lane of Highway 97 was closed for about two hours after the wreck, Bryant said.

The trucking company and tow trucks are at the scene this morning trying to determine the best way to pull the partially submerged tractor trailer from the river and will likely need to shut down at least one lane of Highway 97 during that effort, Bryant said.

It’s unknown this morning if diesel fuel from the semi spilled into the river. Bryant said the state Department of Ecology will be on scene today.

Douglas County Fire District 4 reported nine firefighters from Orondo Fire and Chelan Fire and Rescue, three EMS personnel from Lake Chelan Community Hospital and five law enforcement officers from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol responded to the accident.