Teen jumps from bridge

An Oak Harbor High School senior is believed to have jumped to his death from Deception Pass Bridge early Thursday evening.

At approximately 6:30 p.m. Thursday, witnesses saw 17-year-old Adrian Almario of Oak Harbor jump from the bridge. Another witness saw him briefly floating in the water, 180 feet below. As of the News-Times’ press time Friday afternoon, Almario’s body had not been recovered.

Authorities believe Almario walked to the bridge from Oak Harbor and was alone when he jumped.

Almario had attended Oak Harbor schools since 2000 when he was at North Whidbey Middle School. At Oak Harbor High School he was a member of the culinary arts team that recently won a state competition.

“This just came out of the blue. I would have never anticipated it,” said Louise Reuble, culinary arts instructor at the high school.

She said Almario was pleasant, introspective and hard working. He participated in the Knowledge Bowl portion of the state culinary competition the students won last month.

Reuble said Almario was planning to enroll in the culinary arts program at Skagit Valley College after graduating from high school. He had signed up for a field trip to the college campus scheduled for Tuesday.

“It’s hard for everybody,” Reuble said, adding students made tearful visits to the culinary classroom after learning the news.

Attempts to contact Almario’s family weren’t successful.

Rescue crews searched the waters and beaches of Deception Pass after the teenager jumped. A backpack left at the site and eyewitness accounts convinced officials that Almario was the person who jumped.

Because there was an incoming tide when Almario jumped, rescue crews searched the area from the bridge to Dugualla Bay, said Marv Koorn, chief of North Whidbey Fire and Rescue.

“We were out last night from 6:30 ‘til dark,” Koorn said Friday.

In addition to two boats from the fire district, boats from the Skagit County Sheriff’s Department and the Washington State Parks, as well as a helicopter from the Coast Guard, participated in the search.

Friday morning, rescue crews from the fire district, Island County Sheriff’s Office and a Navy helicopter resumed the search for Almario. Koorn said the shoreline in the same area would be searched again to see if a body had washed ashore. They started at approximately 11:30 a.m. and, as of Friday afternoon, searchers were still trying to find the teenager.

As crews were beginning to prepare to search for Almario Friday morning, school officials were busy breaking the sad news to students at the high school.

Joe Hunt, spokesperson for the school district, said students learned about the incident Friday morning after WASL testing finished. Students who weren’t taking the WASL didn’t have to show up until after sophomores finished the test.

He said distressed students could leave class and visit a counselor. A letter was sent home with students outlining the incident for their parents and a notice was sent out over the school district’s e-mail system.

Students took the news hard and many spent lunch time consoling and comforting each other.

“They are finding comfort amongst themselves,” Hunt said.

The apparent death of Almario is the latest in a series of tragic events for students at the high school. A sophomore committed suicide last October, two recent graduates died this past winter, and a high school senior, Seldon Hazelo, died in a car accident last February.

Hunt said the recent incident with Almario is tougher because it’s coupled with the other losses students experienced throughout the year.

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