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Car sitting in Sauk River for past two months doesn't appear to have removal plan

Locals worry about the impact on salmon runs and the overall health of the river.

DARRINGTON, Wash. — It's not a steelhead or a sockeye – instead a silver sedan is currently sitting in the middle of the Sauk River.

It has been there for more than seven weeks, and there still isn't a firm plan to have it removed.

"When something like this happens to something you love your first feelings are of outrage," said Darrington resident Jon Allen. "My dad was bringing me up to Darrington and the Sauk before I could even walk."

Allen's love for the Sauk River runs deep, which is what's driving his frustration right now.

"You know, sometimes I laugh about it because if I don't laugh, I cry," he said. "It went in on the sixth of May so today is day 52."

Fifty-two days ago, an alleged drunk driver apparently took a wrong turn at a nearby park. The car floated a few hundred yards downstream before coming to a rest, nose down against the current.

Allen worries about the impact on salmon and the overall health of the river.

"The Sauk has been designated as a wild and scenic river," he said. "That makes this a very special place. The car just doesn't belong here."

Washington has approximately 70,439 miles of river, of which 197 miles are designated as "wild and scenic." That's less than three-tenths of 1% of the state's river miles.

Allen said he has called everyone from the State Department of Natural Resources to the governor's office, but still the car sits.

"We’ve waited 52 days," Allen said. "We could have done this a long time ago."

The Department of Ecology tells KING 5 any significant environmental concerns have likely been washed away. A Department of Natural Resources spokesperson said they to wait until the river recedes to lower, slower levels before it is safe to pull the car out.

Allen would like to see the military step in and airlift the vehicle out of the river with a Chinook helicopter.

"They could use it as a training exercise," he said. "Otherwise, we have plenty of people in this community who could band together and get the car out themselves, but everyone is afraid of getting fined."

For now, the car sits. Every day that passes, Allen believes the Sauk River suffers.

"We want to be the custodians of the environment and we want to do everything too help the salmon. This isn't helping the salmon," he said. "I just really hope that this stirs some degree of outrage within the people who love this river. They need to contact Governor Inslee and demand he do something to pull this car out of this river."

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