Watercraft takes perilous plunge at Wanapum Dam

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Grant PUD photo From left, Wanapum Dam chief power plant operator Steve Warner stands with Bryan Shultz and apprentice operator Dan McCourtie after Shultz's watercraft was recovered.

A Puyallup man’s jet ski took an 80-foot plunge over a juvenile fish bypass at Wanapum Dam this month.

Fortunately, he was no longer on it.

The Grant County PUD said 51-year-old Bryan Shultz launched his Yamaha WaveRunner at Frenchman Coulee on the Columbia River on July 22.

Shultz is an experienced rider, the PUD said, but about four miles he downstream encountered a fast-moving current and whitecaps whipped up by winds gusting up to 50 mph.

He fell off after a hitting a particularly large whitecap while trying to turn around, then struggled to make it to shore.

But the wave runner continued on past the dam’s safety barrier.

It was too late to safely retrieve the WaveRunner, so dam operators watched as it went flying through the bypass spillgate, which dumps an average of 20,000 cubic feet of water per second.

Dam chief operator Steve Warner and apprentice operator Dan McCourtie recovered the craft as it was bobbing in moss-covered rocks along the shoreline.

Having seen logs ripped to pieces by the bypass, they were surprised to find little visible damage to the watercraft.

Finding his contact information in a bag, the workers called Shultz.

I’m looking at this 10-story-high dam and wondering how many pieces of fiberglass I was going to find of my jet ski,” Shultz told the PUD.

But not only did it suffer little body damage, it started right up and rode to the nearest boat launch.

The dam also escaped with no damage, the PUD reported.