Warehouse Beach

An ambulance stands by at Warehouse Beach on June 24, 2020 as divers attempt to locate a vehicle that went over the cliff and into the river. The vehicle turned out to be empty.

HERMISTON — A vehicle found in the Columbia River on Wednesday, June 24, did not have anyone inside and appears to have been purposely sent into the water, the Umatilla County Sheriff's Office reports.

The sheriff's office, Umatilla County Fire District #1 and Columbia Basin Dive Rescue responded to Warehouse Beach on Highway 730 east of Hermiston on Wednesday afternoon after a 911 caller reported seeing fresh tire tracks leading off the edge of a cliff adjacent to the beach. The caller could see something light-colored through the deep water below, according to Undersheriff Jim Littlefield.

CBDR deployed divers and sonar in the area and discovered a white pickup truck underwater. Littlefield said they did not find anyone in the vehicle or surrounding water.

"The vehicle did not have license plates, and the divers described a chain and padlock type device on the steering wheel," he said in an email. "There were no witnesses, but it appears that the vehicle was purposely dumped into the river."

The incident is under investigation.

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