BENTON COUNTY, WA - An Avista Power crew member who fell into the Columbia River on Tuesday has died.
The Benton County Coroner has confirmed the death of 44-year-old Cliff Johnson. He leaves behind a wife and five children, according to a GoFundMe that was created.
On Tuesday afternoon at about 2:45 p.m., an Avista Power crew was working on the Hanford Site where power lines stretch from Hanford to Franklin County across the Columbia River.
At some point, Johnson fell into the river. Hanford Fire responded and got him out of the river. He was taken to a hospital where he later passed away. The Benton County Coroner ruled his death a drowning.
A GoFundMe created for Johnson describes him as "a genuinely funny, kind, caring, hardworking and devoted family man, friend and IBEW lineman." To view the GoFundMe page for Johnson, click here.
Avista's president and CEO released a statement regarding Johnson's death, stating: "We express our deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the ILB crew member." The statement also says the company is in the process of setting up a family assistance fund.
International Line Builders also acknowledged the tragedy, saying in a statement: "It deeply saddens the International Line Builders family that one of our employees died Dec. 17 following an accident near the Hanford nuclear site in Washington... Together, we are providing support for the employee’s family and each other. Counseling is being made available and we are establishing a memorial fund for the employee’s family. The work site has been shut down and we are working closely with authorities to understand what happened."