Gravel Pit Fatality Feared, Front Loader Operator Missing in WA

The front loader appears to have slid down a 30-foot embankment into the gravel pit, which is flooded with oily, contaminated water. Rescue workers searched the murky waters through the night after the man's family traveled to the site earlier to find an "area of disturbed gravel, ripped out plants and broken pipes where the loader went over the bank."

Officials fear the man may have been fatally injured either during or after the accident, and have not released his identity. The front loader was found in the gravel pit in six to eight feet of water, on its side.

Workers were still searching for any sign of the man at midnight and returned Friday morning to begin looking again, but conditions were not ideal for search. Clark County Fire & Rescue Battallion Chief Tim Dawdy explained:

Divers were working in dangerous conditions looking for the man in darkness and poor visibility in oily, brackish contaminated water. They have called for clean water and dish soap to clean themselves after diving.

"The divers have really done a remarkable job, considering the circumstances," Dawdy said.

As the hours stretch on, chances of the front-loader operator being found alive in or near the gravel pit diminish, but it does not seem the rescue has gone from search and rescue to search and recovery thus far.