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Van Rolls into River; Three Children Die Despite Father’s Frantic Effort

July 5, 1995

CHELAN, Wash. (AP) _ A van with three young children sleeping inside rolled into the Columbia River while their parents stopped at a park for a bathroom break. All three children died despite their father’s frantic effort to save them.

The couple apparently had not put the van’s transmission into park, said sheriff’s dispatcher Bill Davis.

The family had been returning home after watching Fourth of July fireworks.

David and Jennifer Hoffpauir had left their children in the van late Tuesday while they used the restrooms at Beebe Bridge Park, Douglas County Sheriff Dan LaRoche said. When they came out, the van was gone.

``At that moment, they panicked. They could see where it had rolled into the river,″ he said.

The van rolled upside down in the water, LaRoche said. Hoffpauir tried to get into the van but its doors were locked and the current was swift. The vehicle sank.

Divers could not attach a cable to the van until the current was slowed by reducing flow from nearby dams, LaRoche said. When the van finally was pulled free, the children had been under water for more than two hours, he said.

About 10 doctors and nurses at Lake Chelan Community Hospital spent more than three hours trying to resuscitate the children, said associate nursing director Teresa Smith.

``There was a valiant effort on everyone’s part. Unfortunately, it didn’t work,″ she said.

La Roche identified the children as 9-month-old Nathan Hoffpauir, Brian Hoffpauir, 6, and Ashley Hoffpauir, 8, of Omak, about 50 miles away.

Chelan is about 165 miles northeast of Seattle in north-central Washington.

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