Man dies after jumping off cliff into the Cowlitz River

Man dies after jumping off cliff into the Cowlitz River »Play Video
The cliff that officials believe the man jumped off of (KATU photo).

CASTLE ROCK, Wash. - A man who jumped off a 50-foot cliff into the Cowlitz River was later found dead about a mile downstream.

Saturday morning, emergency responders got reports that a man had run into trouble on the river near Lions Park in Castle Rock, Wash.

Bystanders reportedly saw the man yelling for help after his jump but there was no way anyone could reach him because of the high cliffs in the area. The man tried to swim to shore but went under.

"People saw him enter the water and then within a few minutes heard him calling for help," said Sgt. Scott Neves with the Castle Rock Police Department. "And then he disappeared."

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter later spotted the man's body from above and rescuers went in for a recovery effort. The victim was later identified as 43-year-old Michael L. Bell from Ryderwood, Wash.

According to a report in The Longview Daily News, Bell drowned nearly five years to the day that his brother also drowned in the Cowlitz River.

The water in the area is running fast and is very cold, prompting officials to once again warn folks of the dangers of our waterways, which don't necessarily warm up all that much in the summer. If you do choose to go swimming, life vests are advised.