2nd UPDATE — Identity of body found below Port Townsend bluff expected to be announced Monday
By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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Authorities have yet to determine how or why the woman — believed to be in her 60s or possibly 50s — fell down the 200-foot incline.
The site is where a major slide at a spot northwest of downtown Port Townsend known as “End of the World” collapsed to the beach in mid-October. The slide area has been closed since then.
The body, found by a passer-by Saturday morning, was retrieved by Jefferson Search & Rescue volunteers at sunset Saturday.
An earlier attempt to recover the body Saturday by a sheriff's boat was aborted because of high winds and seas associated with a storm that blew across Western Washington.
The woman's body was located in the remnants of the slide that occurred Oct. 13 but was not related to the slide itself, said Michael Evans, Port Townsend deputy police chief, said Sunday.
The Police Department did not release the identification of the woman Sunday because family members had not been notified.
“There is no indication at this point of foul play,” Evans said.
There was no sign of additional earth slippage on the bluff.
Although authorities do not know how long the body had been there, they believe it was fewer than 24 hours.
Evans said the body was turned over to the Jefferson County Coroner's Office, and an autopsy will be performed as part of the death investigation.
The body was between 50 feet and 70 feet above the tide line at the bottom of the “End of the World” bluff at Elmira Street Park.
The End of the World viewpoint is reached through several yards of underbrush that are now set off by a “park closed” sign.
The October slide made it too dangerous for the search-and-rescue team to rappel down the bluff to retrieve the body, Evans said.
“The weather turned on us quickly,” he said.
The team waited until the tide retreated, then hiked about 1.5 miles from North Beach County Park to the scene.
Rescuers had to climb over rocks, Evans said.
“We had to climb up the side of the landslide to get to the body,” he said.
Evans said the team reached the body just at dusk.
By the time the team recovered the body, the tide had gone out enough that they could use an off-road one-wheeled gurney to return to North Beach County Park as darkness fell.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at email@example.com.
Last modified: November 03. 2013 7:56PM