The Curry Coastal Pilot

Jefferson County search and rescue members on May 27 found the body of former Brookings resident Isamu (Sam) Furuichi, who drowned after accidently falling into the Metolius River the day before.

Furuichi, 66, of Corvallis, lived with his wife, artist Billie Ruth, in Brookings several years ago. At that time, he was a sushi chef at Brookings' Cafe Kitanishi.

Furuichi, who worked as a master sushi chef in Corvallis, was spending the day fishing on the Metolius River with his wife when he accidently stumbled or slipped and fell into the swiftly moving river.

Furuichi was found about 2.3 miles downriver from where he initially fell in by search and rescue members who were searching the river by kayaks. He was found still wearing his neoprene chest waders and was not wearing a life jacket.

Alcohol and drugs are not believed to be a factor in the accident.

Search efforts included crews searching again by foot along the shoreline, the river by kayaks, and a Lifeflight helicopter searching from the air.

The search was a total team effort, according to Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue coordinator Dave Blann.

"Without the help from our partners at the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office providing their swift water rescue team and Lifeflight helping in the search things may not have ended so quickly," he said.

Once the search began on the water, Furuichi was found in about 30 minutes, approximately 3,000 feet down river from where the search had been forced to stop the night before due to darkness.

"This is a tragic ending to a day of fishing," said Capt. Marc Heckathorn, of the JCSO, reminding people that inflatable lifejackets are an important option for fisherman, since they have the ability to save a life, but don't interfere with fishing.

Furuichi's body was transported to the McHenry Funeral Home in Corvallis. Contaact them through their website at

- Story provided by the Madras Pioneer newspaper.