UPDATE: Major Beach Drive emergency response; reports of ‘parachuter’ into the water, but apparently just balloons

(Reader photo)
10:04 PM UPDATE: A big contingent of Seattle Fire and Police is headed by land and sea to Beach Drive/Genesee (map), where a caller reported seeing “a parachuter” go into the water. More to come.

10:10 PM UPDATE: Scanner now indicates that more than one person saw this and called it in. Rescue crews who are arriving are setting up lights and other equipment in hopes of finding out where the person is.

(Photos from here by WSB’s Christopher Boffoli unless otherwise credited)
If you have the water in view, you’ll see multiple vessels; the U.S. Coast Guard is joining in the search, too.

10:20 PM UPDATE: They haven’t found anyone yet, but are continuing to coordinate every search tool/strategy they possibly can. We have a crew arriving on scene, but in the meantime, thanks to the neighbor who sent the photo we’ve added above.

10:28 PM UPDATE: WSB’s Christopher Boffoli is at the scene and we’re adding two photos from him inline above. Via scanner, still no word of anyone being found. The Coast Guard is planning to use aerial flares “to illuminate the area.” (Photo added)

(Christopher’s photo substituted for earlier reader photo showing flare)
There’s also word they might need to shift the search further north.

If you’re seeing emergency vehicles at Don Armeni Boat Ramp, they are staging there in case someone is found and needs to be transported to medic unit on shore. Also, please AVOID Beach Drive in that area – it’s blocked by the rescue vehicles and they’re still trying to get police to help with traffic.

10:36 PM: They’ve found a bunch of balloons and believe that’s what people saw. But they’re still checking the water in case.

10:41 PM: They’re fairly sure that’s what it was – a large bunch of “mylar balloons” – and some of the units are being dismissed now.

11:01 PM: Even more units have left, and Beach Drive is reopening to traffic.

1:10 AM: We’ve continued to monitor; the balloon discovery definitely closed the call. Both SPD and SFD had vessels on the water, but the latter tells us the former found the balloons.

58 Replies to "UPDATE: Major Beach Drive emergency response; reports of 'parachuter' into the water, but apparently just balloons"

  • Luke June 14, 2015 (10:08 pm)

    I can hear them going down there now. That is a lot of sirens. Haven’t heard this kind of response since the fire near California ave a few weeks ago.

  • K to the F June 14, 2015 (10:08 pm)

    Dang y’all are fast! Heard sirens, checked here, post up. Keep up the great work!

  • Justin June 14, 2015 (10:09 pm)

    Parachuter? Wow. Heard the sirens and pulled by the blog.

  • ktrapp June 14, 2015 (10:11 pm)

    Huge contingent of emergency vehicles heading down from Admiral.

  • ~Hockeywitch~ June 14, 2015 (10:13 pm)

    Oh man… I hope they find who they are looking for. It’s a little late out there for Parachuting

  • BeachBoy June 14, 2015 (10:17 pm)

    Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! It seems like every unit in SFD’s inventory has gone by our house! Thanks for being on top of this, WSB!

  • Jon Wright June 14, 2015 (10:20 pm)

    “Big contigent” is an understatement. We watched what seemed like every vehicle in Seattle with a siren pass through Seaview on their way to the water. Hope this has a happy ending.

  • WS Mom June 14, 2015 (10:21 pm)

    I have NEVER ever heard as many Emergency vehicles flying down Admiral Way towards Alki!! I hope this story has a happy ending…We are so blessed to have such wonderful professionals coming to help!! Bless them all!

  • Steve June 14, 2015 (10:22 pm)

    Just saw the police boats arrive…parachuter? At night? Just crazy

  • David June 14, 2015 (10:22 pm)

    I’m out on my balcony on Beach Drive half a block from where all this is happening. I’ve been out here for the past hour or so, but didn’t see the parachuter or hear any planes flying overhead. Very strange. An ambulance just rushed away from the scene, so I was hoping that meant they found the person, but more fire trucks keep arriving.

  • chelle June 14, 2015 (10:24 pm)

    Wow! What a response. Hope everyone is okay. Thanks wsb, only media outlet to be on top of it!

  • miws June 14, 2015 (10:25 pm)

    Major response, indeed!


    According to SFD 911 Log; E11/Highland Park, E37/Sunrise Heights, E13/Beacon Hill, E5/Downtown Waterfront, among the units called out.



  • mary June 14, 2015 (10:27 pm)

    why was he parachuting at night?

  • KML June 14, 2015 (10:28 pm)

    Tremendous response. I am standing on my deck watching search vessels arrive and search from every angle. Hoping for a the safety of this person and resolution soon.

  • chelle June 14, 2015 (10:28 pm)

    Wow, what a response. Hope everyone is okay. Thanks wsb for being on top of it!

  • DML June 14, 2015 (10:29 pm)

    Great coverage as always. More police boats and Coast Guard now shining lights across the water. Seven total and they just shot up a flare.

  • Cathie June 14, 2015 (10:30 pm)

    They have started sending up flares. I can see 3 boats plus CG cutter. Am near Beach and Andover.

  • David June 14, 2015 (10:31 pm)

    I’m out on my balcony on Beach Drive half a block from where all this is happening. I’ve been out here for an hour or so, but didn’t see the parachuter or hear any small planes flying overhead. Strange time of day for skydiving, if that’s what this involved. An ambulance rushed away from the scene about 10 minutes ago, so I was hoping that meant they found the person, but more fire trucks keep showing up and now they’re shooting flares to light up the water in the area.

  • Diane June 14, 2015 (10:31 pm)

    parachuting in the dark off Beach Drive; how does that even happen?

  • ScubaFrog June 14, 2015 (10:31 pm)

    Hopefully the Coast Guard or King County Sheriff’s Office is able to get a helicopter over the scene, and utilize the body-heat imaging technology.

    Hopefully he or she is ok.

  • BeachBoy June 14, 2015 (10:32 pm)

    Any chance it could’ve been a parasailor who was out a bit late and got into trouble?

  • DiverLaura June 14, 2015 (10:32 pm)

    There is a paraglider that I’ve seen round Alki point from time to time when out shooting video there… Maybe that vs. parachuter.

  • Cheetah fast dad June 14, 2015 (10:32 pm)

    Unusual call for a parachutist in the water — after dark. Hopefully, someone starts counting noses on that airplane or helicopter.

  • W-Sea June 14, 2015 (10:33 pm)

    See at least 6 boats, police/coastguard?? Using flares. Evening boat parade !!

  • Daric June 14, 2015 (10:37 pm)

    Flare went up in the air a few minutes ago, boats rushed over.

  • Pam June 14, 2015 (10:37 pm)

    Do you think it was a meteor? Not a parachute?

  • Sadtaco June 14, 2015 (10:39 pm)

    I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but what makes you guys think this is some kind of accident? People don’t parachute into populated areas like this, and you know the military would have been all over this if they had an incident occur with one of their own.

  • Brenda June 14, 2015 (10:39 pm)

    Telescopes can be tricky –

    • WSB June 14, 2015 (10:40 pm)

      As updated above, they’ve found a “big bunch of balloons” and thinking that’s what people saw.

  • Westside J June 14, 2015 (10:41 pm)

    Why don’t the fly the SPD helicopter over the scene using its infrared just like they do when they are tracking people on land? If he’s alive he’ll have a heat signature right?

  • Above Alki June 14, 2015 (10:45 pm)

    We live above Alki and saw something fly by around 9:45. Our scope confirmed it was a very large bunch of mylar balloons. Something was hanging down so it definitely had a “parachute-like” look with the naked eye. And it looked pretty large and was moving quickly. Not saying there really wasn’t a parachuter, but it’s pretty coincidental. We called the police with the report just to make sure they have all the info.

  • sonic June 14, 2015 (10:47 pm)

    Interesting – when I first heard the sirens and checked the blog to see what was up, I thought it might be that bunch of balloons I saw earlier. I live near 61st and Admiral and they went floating over my house – looked like they came from alki beach. Someone walked by my house towards the beach carrying them and then must have released them. Lots of environmental reasons not to release balloons – anyway, here’s one very expensive consequence.

  • Waste of time June 14, 2015 (10:47 pm)

    All weekend long, every weekend from May till October there are hundreds of calls to report people dumping their trash on the ground, speeding to the beach, running the stop sign at 63rd and Admiral, fighting, getting drunk, blaring music, etc down here, and never a response. But one person calls about a “parachuter” and every resource in the city comes out. Great prioritizing and use of taxpayer dollars.

    • WSB June 14, 2015 (10:50 pm)

      It wasn’t one caller. It was multiple. And if someone was drowning, time would be of the essence. The priority of law enforcement is “life safety.” I can’t speak to why your hundreds of calls have gone unanswered but can certainly speak to this one. Like any possible structure-fire call – sometimes they turn out to be “food on the stove,” but the policy is to dispatch everything because a life could be lost if it turns out to be a major fire and they THEN have to call for reinforcements.
      Re: earlier comment from Westside J – Guardian One was not available – SPD does not have a helicopter; that’s what law enforcement uses when it’s available. Someone mentioned a helicopter on Twitter, so that would have been Coast Guard, if so.

  • Jeff Gassen June 14, 2015 (10:48 pm)

    I saw the balloons tonight from beach drive flying their way into the water; a big lump of them, but not even the height of a person.

  • Beckyjo June 14, 2015 (10:49 pm)

    how much did that cost us tax payers?

  • Chris June 14, 2015 (10:50 pm)

    My daughter is down there and spoke with a neighbor who said he was told by a witness that they saw someone in the water waving their hands. I would assume that person would have told that to the responders though.

  • Deborah June 14, 2015 (10:54 pm)

    Question is….if it were balloons, what was that all about and where did they come from at night?

  • Waste of time June 14, 2015 (10:54 pm)

    But it wasn’t someone drowning, it was a bunch of balloons. And they aren’t my hundreds of calls, it’s the hundreds of calls a law enforcement official told us and our neighbors that they receive every weekend about less than favorable characters invading our beaches

  • Kayla June 14, 2015 (10:55 pm)

    “Waste of time” you sound bitter. Would you have been happier if someone had died? Would that have been worth it to you?

  • Izzy425 June 14, 2015 (10:57 pm)

    Even if it is just balloons, kudos to our terrific rescue teams for the quick response, and great that the balloons are now out of the water to prevent any sea critters from getting tangled up! Thank you WSB for the excellent coverage.

  • Jana June 14, 2015 (10:58 pm)

    I didn’t see it happen, but I called it in as it seemed there was a trail of smoke in the sky that from my view on the water. It looked like it ended out in the middle of the water in front of Mee Kwa Mooks park. I took a photo of it.

  • Steve June 14, 2015 (11:08 pm)

    I saw that smoke trail as well Jana. Very strange indeed. And while I was looking at that I saw the ISS fly over. :)

  • Jerry June 14, 2015 (11:08 pm)

    Every day I hear blaring music on Alki, see drunkeness, an occasional fight, etc…, But, it’s not every day that a potential terrorist threat happens in our waters. If a report of a parachute going into the water at dusk/dark off the coast of a major US city is called in, and someone thinks it’s worthy of the response it received, I am glad we have the resources to be able to respond appropriately.

  • ws_suzanne June 14, 2015 (11:13 pm)

    Izzy425 — I agree completely. Well worth the investment to save a life. I’m grateful to live here, where we can afford to act in the event of a possible emergency. Many places don’t have that luxury.

  • Chu D Phat June 14, 2015 (11:14 pm)

    Just saw a balloon delivery truck…er an ambulance…go by. Good job people. It’s helium-Chipmunk-voices sing-along night at the firehouse tonight!

    • WSB June 14, 2015 (11:44 pm)

      And if anyone is wondering about other sirens … they had several calls holding while this was in high gear … one involving someone, possibly armed, threatening self-harm somewhere near 35th/Roxbury. That one has just been resolved … person in custody, no injuries reported.

  • Waste of time June 14, 2015 (11:29 pm)

    Jerry, how in any way is one mythical parachuter, if it was actually one and not balloons, a terrorist threat?

  • Matt S. June 14, 2015 (11:45 pm)

    More protest balloons?

    • WSB June 14, 2015 (11:51 pm)

      No, these are reported to be mylar. Don’t know what if anything they said – am asking authorities (SPD reportedly had them in custody). The only balloons the protesters used, weeks ago, were tethered to one of their signs, not sent off into the air.

  • tamara June 15, 2015 (1:02 am)

    I was the eye witness and it looked like a parachute with a person. I had to call in after watching a large boat pass by and could still see a dark image in the water appearing to bob around untill it faded away. I am proud to say I believed it was a possible man in distress. I appreciate the other caller and am hopeful it was only ballons! Thank God I live in america where one possible life is so precious! We appreciate law inforcement and the coast guard for all they did! Amazing power and heart for a man!!! Thank you, Tamara

  • sc June 15, 2015 (7:43 am)

    A few years ago I called 911 about a small fire in dry leaves started by fireworks. They responded, put out the fire and then checked with a special camera to make sure there were no embers left. I apologized for calling them out for such a small incident but their reply was to always call, that’s why they’re here!

  • miws June 15, 2015 (8:15 am)

    Waste of time, How did you know ahead of time, with 100%, absolute certainty that this was just a bunch of mylar balloons, and not potentially a parachutist, or other person, in possible distress?


    And if so, did you call the authorities and tell them that in such an absolute and convincing manner that they would know with absolute certainty that they did not need to send a large contingent of first responders, or any? And if not, why not? Coulda saved them a whole buncha time and resources, and saved taxpayers a bunch of money!



  • ltfd June 15, 2015 (8:16 am)

    Tamara, you were one of SEVERAL callers, all of whom believed that they had witnessed a parachutist falling into Puget Sound.

    Both the US Coast Guard and Fire Department members spoke with several of the 911 callers, and their information was used to triangulate the search on the water. That information was quite accurate compared to where the cluster of mylar balloons was finally located.

  • Scupper June 15, 2015 (9:53 am)

    It’s a -2.3 tide out there at 10:40AM. I’m going to swing by and and search for any suitcases of money!

    It was actually nice to see this being a non-event considering all the other incidents we’ve witnessed along that same strip of beach. Call it practice.

  • A-Red June 15, 2015 (10:04 am)

    We were down at Me Kwa Mooks around 4:30-5pm and noted a UFO in the sky. We couldn’t tell what it was with certainty, but it looked like a large bunch of mylar balloons. We first noticed it near the lighthouse, and lost sight of it way in the distance toward Vashon.

    We referred to it as a UFO because whatever we saw looked a bit big to be balloons, but we assumed it to be balloons because there was 6-10 of them in a bunch. Besides, we’ve all seen those mylar balloons that are the size of a four-person tent.

    Anyway, I’ll probably never know the answer but I wonder if what came down later that evening was the same bunch of balloons, or if it was a different bunch?

  • Tamara June 15, 2015 (10:36 am)

    Thank you LTFD, it still baffles me, the speed and size and object hanging looked like a parachuter. My boyfriend and I assumed it was a coast guard exercise because we could see a boat with a bright light approaching a few minutes away from what we thought was the parachutist, we watched in enterest and I commented I could see what looked like motion of arms waving to the boat, after a few minutes the boat passed a ways beyond the object. Thats when concern raised, I could still see what I thought was waving arms and after a couple more minutes we called. I kept my eyes on the object till it grew smaller and I couldnt see what I thought was the person anymore. We actually had trouble with cell reception and had to complete the call through a passerby. We would never have called if we thought for an instant it was something other then a life in danger! It was far off enough I couldnt confirm it was arms but I could see a dark spot of motion that became less till gone.It is a relief to know other callers thought it was a parachutist too! I marveled at the response and at one point while on the phone with the coastguard thought we had a possible rescue which a few moments later was found to be mylar balloons. I was actually directing a coastguard boat where to look and shoot flares. The greatness that I hope comes of this story is the amazing response and help for possibly one life! I thought how awesome we americans are and what heros we are ready to be! I saw, as did many others that we will do whatever it takes to save a life. If anything was proven a story it is the honor these men and woman deserve!

  • mrsMarty June 15, 2015 (1:38 pm)

    Thank goodness for the SFD, SPD, and CG and all the great work they do, whether it’s a false alarm or not if they save just one life it’s all worth it!

    And as for “where did these balloons come from”…remember there were a lot of graduations this past weekend and what else is a kid going to do with them but set them free.

Sorry, comment time is over.