Accident heightens worries about bank fishing

<I>SAM QUILLIN photo</I><BR>Concerns and complaints about the crowd of fishermen and their families on U.S. Highway 101 east of the Chinook Tunnel reached a new pitch after a boy was struck by a car there recently.

McGOWAN - A nine-year-old boy was injured June 29 when he darted in front of a car on U.S. Highway 101 at a popular roadside fishing spot near St. Mary's Catholic Church.

Washington State Patrol Sgt. Freddie Williams reported that the boy, Alex Dimov, from Tacoma, was fishing with his family and darted in front of a car. He said the driver said he always slows down when he passes the people fishing and was going about 40 mph in the 55 mph zone. When he saw the boy, he said he slammed on his brakes but hit the child, who went up and over the hood and onto the windshield, then rolled off onto the highway. Williams said the father ran out and grabbed his son and dragged him to the side of the road.

Alex was transported to Columbia Memorial Hospital by ambulance, then life-flighted to Legacy Emanuel Health Center in Portland, "as a precautionary measure," Williams said. The injuries weren't life-threatening - contusions to the chest and a bump on the head.

A spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Transportation said the incident was "a very tragic accident. Highway 101 is a popular, but dangerous, place for people to park when they fish. We don't encourage parking on the shoulder of the highway because it is unsafe. Our thoughts are with the boy and his family."

She pointed out that there are public restrooms at the Dismal Nitch rest area east of the fishing area and also at Chinook County Park, west of the Chinook Tunnel for the use of fishers and their families. Local landowners complain about fishermen relieving themselves on nearby private property.

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