Sunnyside man crucial in water rescue

The Yakima County Swift Water Rescue Team was called out last night (Sunday) after Art Gonzalez of Sunnyside noticed a car in the Yakima River as he was crossing the river along Donald Wapato Road.

Gonzalez immediately called 9-1-1 and remained on the scene to keep the occupant of the vehicle calm and let him know help was on the way. Gonzalez also provided translation assistance once rescue personnel arrived.

Yakima County Sheriff deputies and rescue team members, assisted by the Washington State Patrol, Yakima County Fire District 5, Yakima Fire District, Union Gap Fire & Rescue and the Yakima Training Center Fire Department, retrieved the victim, Facondo Nicholas Hernandez of Wapato, from the vehicle. He was transported to Yakima Regional Hospital where he began receiving treatment for hypothermia.

The vehicle was approximately 100 feet from shore and lodged in the river floor. It was completely under water except for the driver’s side front window. It was left in the water for later recovery.

A passenger in the car reportedly swam ashore and left the scene.

The Yakima County Sheriff’s Office credits Gonzalez for his efforts, saying “Yakima County is a better place because of citizens like Mr. Gonzalez.”

Deputies were very busy yesterday, also responding to a grass fire originally reported about 11:15 a.m. near the intersection of SR 22 and Florence Road near Mabton. The fire jumped the river and advanced up to Holaday Road. The sheriff’s office said some residents of the area were asked to evacuate for their own safety.

Last Friday, deputies also investigated the theft of a white Chevy pick-up from the 800 block of Snipes Pump Road near Sunnyside.

A calf was reported stolen this past Saturday morning in the 2500 block of SLI Road near Sunnyside. The animal was later recovered.

Since last Friday morning deputies have also responded to seven automatic alarms, an emergency medical problem, four traffic incidents, two domestic calls, a report of a brush fire, a noise complaint, a report of an abandoned vehicle, two reports of suspicious activity, a report of a sex crime, two reports of animal problems and a report of cows in the roadway.

In that time Yakima County Sheriff deputies also provided an agency assist, conducted three welfare checks, recovered a stolen vehicle and provided assistance to a citizen.

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