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Searchers look for man who fell off Christmas Ship vessel

UPDATE • A 43-year-old St. Helens man may have drowned

Search and rescue teams resumed their search Sunday morning for a man who reported fell off a boat into the Columbia River in St. Helens on Saturday night.

He is identified as 43-year-old John Sullivan of St. Helens. He fell off The Trilogy, a 60-foot boat part in the annual parade of brightly lit Christmas Ships that tour the Columbia and Willamette rivers during the holidays.

Someone reportedly threw a life preserver to Sullivan, but he apparently did not reach it.

Authorities say Sullivan is a friend of the boat's owner and that no alcohol was involved in the incident.

The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office dive team is taking part in the search. It was suspended at 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

A statement by event organizers said the boat parades will continue and insisted that safety is one of their top priorities.

'The Christmas Ship organization has been supporting safety training and issues at all general meetings with special emphasis on the wearing of personal floatation devices while on the water and specifically while on the deck of a vessel. We have regular safety briefings from both our Coast Guard Auxiliary support group as well as local county marine sheriff's patrols,' according to the statement.

Fox 12 contributed to this news story.