Thursday, July 7, 2011

Investigators: No evidence of foul play in deaths of three men

The Spokane Medical Examiner performed autopsies Thursday on three bodies pulled from a submerged car found in the Spokane River.  Authorities think they are those of three missing Bhutanese refugees.  At this point, there is no evidence of foul play.
Investigators have searched around the river since the men went missing.  It was only Wednesday, with the water four feet lower than a month ago, that they were able to catch a break in the missing persons case.  A car bumper and license plate were found along the river bank.
It is directly across from where the youngest victim lived in an apartment complex that prompted the helicopter search.  There are also indications that the car hit some rocks which lead police to believe it entered at high speeds. 
"There was so much trauma to not only the bodies, but the car," said Spokane Police Officer Jennifer DeRuwe.
Investigators believe the car headed north towards Riverton Avenue.  They believe it hit some gravel along the road and entered the water near Sinto Avenue.  The current then took the car downstream where it sat underwater for almost a month. 
Crews removed the car at Boone Avenue.  Inside the car is a piece of evidence investigators said may have contributed to the crash.
"When we recovered the vehicle, we did find a beer can inside," said DeRuwe.
Autopsies are still underway because of the amount of time spent underwater.  Investigators are unsure how compromised toxicology reports will be.  They do believe speed and alcohol may have factored into the crash.
Posted on July 7, 2011 at 5:24 PM
Updated today at 5:43 PM

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