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Chelan ferry crew rescues jumper from chilly plunge

A man who jumped off the back of the ferry Chelan while it was underway Thursday afternoon survived thanks to quick action by the ship's crew.

According to Susan Harris, a spokeswoman for Washington State Ferries, the Chelan was about halfway into its 12:30 p.m. crossing from Clinton when Bruce Beardsley, 44, opened the safety netting on the back of the car deck and jumped into the water.

The ferry quickly stopped and crew members threw life preservers to Beardsley. After he refused to take them, the crew, under the command of Capt. Dean Chase, lowered a rescue boat into the water, motored out to where Beardsley was treading water, and pulled him in.

Harris said Beardsley was chilled from his jump into Puget Sound, but otherwise uninjured. He was transported by ambulance from the Mukilteo ferry dock to Providence Hospital's Colby Campus.

According to the Washington State Patrol, Beardsley -- who does not live in Washington -- jumped off the ferry because he was despondent over recent money troubles. He was referred for a psychological evaluation.

Harris said people do occasionally jump from ferries. However, she said, it is rare for a person to jump off on one of the ferry system's short runs, like Clinton-Mukilteo.

"Usually, the longer runs have people jump off," she said.

Harris said the crew of the Chelan did not find a driverless car after unloading the 12:30 p.m. run, nor did they find any passengers who were looking for Beardsley. She said it is likely that Beardsley was a walk-on passenger.

The rescue operation forced the ferry system to change the afternoon sailing schedule on the run. One afternoon round trip was cancelled to get the ferries back on schedule.

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