Accidental Deception Pass fall kills Arlington man

A 47-year-old man died at Deception Pass in what appears to be an accidental fall near the Fidalgo Island side of the bridge sometime between Monday evening and Tuesday morning.

Arlington resident Arthur Dunphy fell from the cliff near the pulloff located north of the Deception Pass Bridge, said Park Ranger Jack Hartt.

Hartt said he started looking for a person when park visitors called 911 Tuesday afternoon after noticing a coat, camera and glasses lying near the edge of the cliff. Rangers noticed Dunphy's car parked below.

Hartt said he hiked down a scramble route to the rocks below and discovered Dunphy's body. While the bridge is 180 feet above the water, Dunphy fell approximately 80 feet to the rocks. Talus slope, which is basically loose rocks that gather at a base of a cliff, accounts for the remaining 100 feet down to the water.

The Deception Pass Bridge has been the site of numerous suicides in recent years, where many people jump from the bridge span. However, suicide doesn't seem to be cause of Tuesday's death.

"It appears this was not a suicide, but an accident," said Will Reichardt, chief criminal deputy for the Skagit County Sheriff's Office. He stressed, however, that the case was still under investigation.

After Hartt discovered Dunphy's body, rangers, along with firefighters from North Whidbey Fire and Rescue, transported Dunphy's body to the boat landing at Cornet Bay where the Skagit County Coroner's Office took custody of the body.

Skagit County Coroner Daniel Dempsey said Dunphy's family has been notified and that an autopsy to determine the cause of death will take place Thursday afternoon.

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