Coos Bay man found dead in SUV in Umpqua River

Coos Bay man found dead in SUV in Umpqua River
A helicopter and 2 boats searched for possible additional victims. Investigators finally determined the driver was alone at the time of the crash.

REEDSPORT, Ore. - Highway workers found a Coos Bay man dead in his car submerged in the Umpqua River along Highway 38, about 6 miles east of Reedsport.

State police identified the deceased driver as Kenneth Ray Richards, 54, of Coos Bay.

Oregon DOT employees came across the crash scene and called for help.

Douglas County Sheriff's Office and ODOT personnel went into the river and confirmed the driver was dead.

US Coast Guard personnel responded to the scene with a boat and helicopter. Along with state police Fish & Wildlife Division troopers in a second boat, the Coast Guard searched the river for any other possible occupants.

Investigators ultimately determined the driver was alone in the vehicle at the time of the crash.

State police said they don't know why the 1991 Ford Explorer left the road. Richards was driving westbound shortly before 4 p.m. when his SUV went off the road into the water, police said.

The highway was restricted to one lane for the duration of scene investigation and victim recovery, which lasted about 5 hours.