The family of a missing Oregon man believe he may be the same driver whose SUV plunged from a bridge into the Columbia River, according to reports.
Antonio Amaro Lopez sent a text message to his family at about 5 p.m. Sunday saying he was headed home from his family’s restaurant, Amaro’s Table, in Hazel Dell, Washington, as frigid temps and heavy snow blanketed the region, KOIN reported.
“It turned to 7, 8 and [my mom] texted him again, ‘I’m worried, where are you?’” Lopez’s daughter, Abi Amaro, told the station Monday. “And no response.”
Meanwhile, police in Portland said a car traveling south on I-205 apparently lost control just before 6 p.m. Sunday and went over a guardrail on the Glenn L. Jackson Memorial Bridge spanning the Oregon-Washington border and into the Columbia River below.
Amaro said her father was driving a maroon Subaru Tribeca SUV at the time, matching what a witness told cops about the vehicle that went over the bridge.
A Coast Guard crew searched for the SUV, but was unsuccessful, and Portland police have since taken over the investigation, KOIN reported.
But Amaro said she’s frustrated with investigators for not being more proactive in their search efforts, saying it’s “completely out of character” for her father not to stay in touch with his family for days.
Kelly Brown, an extended relative of Amaro Lopez’s, said he had just called his wife prior to the crash.
“According to witness, he was on the Glenn Jackson bridge, and it looks like he lost control on a sheet of ice,” Brown told The Oregonian. “The snow plows pushed the snow to the side and created an embankment, and the vehicle went up that and over, into the water.”
Brown said Amaro Lopez’s relatives called authorities upon seeing reports that a maroon SUV went off the bridge, but didn’t hear back until Monday, when a US Coast Guard official said a crew was sent out within 15 minutes of getting the report that a car had careened off the span.
“They told us they searched for four hours to find the vehicle or any sign of life,” Brown said. “They were unsuccessful.”
The Coast Guard official told relatives they couldn’t go back to the site Monday due to poor weather and murky waters, but planned to return Tuesday, Brown said.
“The family has been sitting here on pins and needles, thinking no one was searching for him,” Brown told the newspaper.
A Portland Fire & Rescue spokesperson had told The Oregonian late Sunday that the vehicle had been recovered, but police later said that report was inaccurate.
“There are no updates regarding this crash or investigation,” Portland police said in a statement Monday.
“The Portland Police Major Crash Team is not aware of the vehicle in this crash having been discovered. According to investigators, the vehicle has not been located and they have no vehicle or passenger details to release.”