Suicide note found on ferry prompts search
June 12, 2008 · Updated 10:10 AM
"The Coast Guard launched a search in the waters of Rich Passage Thursday morning for a suspected suicide victim after a Washington State Ferries (WSF) crew member discovered a suicide note aboard the Hyak, a Bremerton-to-Seattle auto ferry.No such victim was discovered following an extensive, four-hour air and sea search involving a slew of law-enforcement agencies including the Seattle fire and police departments, the Bainbridge Island Fire Department, the Bremerton Police Department and the Washington State Patrol.The search was officially suspended at 12:30 p.m. Thursday because no further leads or evidence was found, said Coast Guard petty officer Jay Bigelow. The cold conditions of the water, which are conducive to hypothermia, played a role in the decision to call off the search, and no missing-persons reports had been filed at that time.Coast Guard officials used a 41-foot utility boat to scour the Puget Sound waters between Bremerton and Seattle, along with the help of a pilot operating a HH-60 helicopter from an air station in Port Angeles before suspending the effort.The multi-page suicide note includes two drawings ferry and local officials hope will point to the author. The note was found sitting on a table in the passenger cabin of the Hyak at 8:15 a.m., said Susan Heuther-Harris, a WSF spokeswoman. Coast Guard officials had started the search by 8:45 a.m.The author didn't sign the note, and officials don't know whether the potentially troubled person is male or female. As of Thursday afternoon, WSP troopers hadn't deduced the identity of the author.To the Coast Guard, a suicide note is a suicide note and, once they were informed according to WSF procedure, CG officials took action.We take all suicide notes seriously, even if there is a slight chance it could be a hoax, Bigelow said. We go full throttle.Though nobody was found in Rich Passage and no other evidence was discovered, local law-enforcement officials want to know who left the note aboard the Hyak.No crime has been committed here, said Trooper Glen Tyrrell, a WSP spokesman. We simply want to figure out who wrote the note so we can get that person help if they need it.Tyrrell encourages anyone who recognizes the drawings included in the note to give the WSP office in Bremerton a call at 360-478-4646. "