Witness who saw a vehicle falling in the Eel river is still in shock

Sixty seven year old Pat Berkowitz is still in shock of witnessing a vehicle falling in to the Eel River last Friday.
He caught just a glimpse before the vehicle that had been pulling over in front of the car he was riding in tipped sideways, thrust two wheels into the air, and tumbled over the bank and out of sight on Friday, April 6 north of Leggett, a report by Kymkemp.com said.
Frantically, he called 911 as his wife pulled their car into the next pullout.
In terror, he said, he ran back up the road and followed the vehicle over the bank to where he could see the Eel River. There was nothing except oil spreading over the surface of the water, the report said.
Berkowitz, who had been traveling from Oregon to San Francisco with his wife, Lorraine, was standing stunned in the rain till the rescue workers arrived.
He lives in Brookings, Oregon.
Berkowitz, a high school teacher, said the driving conditions were very bad. His wife was driving and he was on his cell phone texting. ‘We were going around a curve and the vehicle a bit in front of is was pulling off the road,’ Berkowitz told Kym. ‘My wife goes…’Oh! oh!’
‘The car wasn’t going fast. I don’t think he hit his brakes…The car was not stopping…It goes up on two wheels and tumbled over the edge. I remember seeing the underside of the car.’
They moved a little further as it was not safe to stop there. He returned to the spot and saw a few bits of debris from the vehicle. ‘I could see where a mirror for the car had tumbled,’ he said.
The car was submerged. he said. But he said he saw oil spreading over the water.
Berkowitz shouted in hopes that someone might have been flung out but no one answered.
No recovery attempts by the personnel could not be attempted as it was very dangerous.
He said he and his wife have been badly shaken. He tried to take comfort in the words of a California Highway Patrol officer at the scene. “He thanked us because if we hadn’t let them know, no one would have known the vehicle had gone in the water.” Still, he said, it left he and his wife with “such a feeling of helplessness.”
Meanwhile 30 members of different agencies searched the river yesterday, but could not locate the maroon Honda Pilot, which was swallowed by the river.
California Highway Patrol Officer William Wunderlich confirmed Tuesday morning that “similar parts were located.” But, he noted, “But none of those have confirmed specifically that it is the vehicle registered to the missing family…There was no license plate or vin number.” And he noted, “It is a very popular vehicle model.”
He said that the Highway Patrol was “aware of the missing person’s report.” But, he said, “We don’t have any evidence to match the vehicles though they are similar in type and in color…When we have the right and positive information, we will release that.”
Many of the people searching had left jobs and families in order to help. They did it with no pay and, for the most part, no thanks from early afternoon until evening.
They did it because a family needed to know if their loved ones had perished.
And, today…they’ll do it again…
(With permission)kymkemp.com

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