‘Stunned ... devastated ... heartbroken’

Bridge death to be ruled a drowning

Friends and family of Patrick Orton have created a makeshift memorial on the north railing of the Bridge Street Bridge. (Photo by KEITH KINNAIRD)

SANDPOINT — The death of Sagle man who leapt from Bridge Street Bridge is being classified as a drowning, according to the Sandpoint Police Department.

Patrick R. Orton was found in Sand Creek shortly after either diving or jumping from the span at around 2 a.m. on Saturday morning. Orton was with a small group of friends heading to City Beach when he jumped from the bridge.

Orton’s companions briefly lost sight of him after he jumped. He was subsequently found submerged and unresponsive on the north side of the bridge, according to Police Chief Corey Coon.

Orton, 25, was pronounced dead at Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene. Kootenai County Coroner Deb Wilkey was unavailable for comment on Tuesday, although Coon said he has been advised that Orton’s death will be classified as a drowning.

Alcohol will be cited as a factor in the death. Coon said he had not seen blood alcohol results.

However, Coon said he  was advised that Orton was legally drunk at the time of the jump.

An X-ray examination of Orton turned up no broken bones or other trauma suggesting he struck the bottom of the creek or any other obstruction in the leap.

“He just wanted to jump in and get wet,” Coon said of Orton’s apparent motivation to leap from the relatively small bridge.

City code prohibits people from jumping from bridges, railroad trestles or any other elevated structures.

A makeshift memorial with a dozen bouquets has been erected on the bridge’s north railing.

“You were the best teacher I ever could have asked for,” said one message that was written on adhesive tape that held fast a photograph of Orton.

Another message read, “Stunned ... devastated ... heartbroken. Patrick — you are so loved. I am lucky to have known you. I’ll miss you.”

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