Story Summary

Water rescues and drownings

Every year, especially when the temperatures rise, people in Western Washington take to the area rivers and lakes. But with rivers running swift and cold from mountain snowmelt, people can be dragged under water or get into other trouble. Water rescues and drowings become more common in the spring and summer months.

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Local News

Good Samaritans help three in overturned boat

boats lake unionSEATTLE — The quick thinking of some passers by and the fast response of emergency workers helped save three people after their fishing boat overturned Tuesday evening in Lake Union.

Seattle Police Department harbor officers responded to a report of an overturned, 14-foot fishing boat around 7 p.m. in the waters at South Lake Union. When officers arrived, they spotted three people in the water. Officers and two fishing boats helped locate everyone and the three were rescued.

No injuries were reported, and the overturned boat was turned right-side up. It is unknown what caused the boat to flip.

Local News

Man drowns while fishing on the Columbia River

bridgeST HELENS, OR (KPTV) - A Scappoose man drowned while fishing on the Columbia River near St. Helens Sunday afternoon.

Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office said 55-year-old Richard Schlumpberger’s kayak overturned at about 3 p.m. after he became entangled in the anchor line and was unable to free himself.

Boats from the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office, Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Clark County Fire, Columbia County, Oregon Sheriff’s Office and the Coast Guard responded to the area. A Coast Guard helicopter also assisted in the search.

“They had a couple boats, and I think they found him by the time the Coast Guard got there,” said Josh Vanderzanden, who saw the search from his fishing boat. “The Coast Guard flew over and they were going to land. They warned everyone about flying sand and stuff when they landed.”

A short time later, divers recovered Schlumpberger’s body near the spot where he went under.

Deputies said Schlumpberger’s family was on shore when he went overboard, and they were notified of his death by a chaplain from the Cowlitz County Chaplaincy.

It is unclear if Schlumpberger was wearing a life vest.

From KPTV 

waterrescuePUYALLUP — A badly decomposed body of a man found in the Puyallup River Friday was believed to be that of a 25-year-old man who disappeared while rafting on July 1, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said.

Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said it is believed the  body was caught up in brush and tree limbs and came loose in high tide after Thursday night’s heavy rainstorms.

On July 2, search and rescue teams called off their search the man who went missing the day before. He had been trying to float a portion of the Puyallup River in an inner tube.

A Pierce County sheriff’s department spokesman said the man put his tube in the water around 6 p.m. July 1 with two friends at a drop spot near 80th Street East and State Route 162 by the Puyallup River bridge. The group floated for about two hours before the friend was separated from the others. The group waited for him at the point they were supposed to meet, and called 911 once he was missing for more than two hours.

Pierce County Search and Rescue crews arrived at the scene and found the missing man’s inner tube near a sand bar south of the drop spot. The search was called off because muddy, swift-moving water hampered efforts.


cushmanSHELTON — Kyle Austin Pape, 20, of Fox Island, drowned after diving into Lake Cushman Sunday afternoon, the Mason County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.

Pape was last seen diving off a diving board on the west side of Lake Cushman and never surfaced, the sheriff’s office said. Witnesses said he had dived off the board at least four previous times that day with no problem. Friends tried to find Pape when he didn’t surface, but could not find him in the deep water.

Divers from a rescue team later found Pape’s body about 48 feet under the surface.

Local News

Man drowns in Lake Cushman

CushmanMASON COUNTY — A 20-year-old man did not resurface after diving into Lake Cushman Sunday. His body was found almost two hours later.

According to the Mason County Sheriff’s Office, the man dove into the lake shortly before 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Friends searched for him when he didn’t resurface, and called 911 a short time later. Mason County Sheriff’s Office Dive and Rescue Teams located his body around 6:30 p.m., and he was pronounced dead a short time later.

The man was identified as Kyle Austin Pape from Fox Island, Wash.

The sheriff’s office interviewed witnesses and was trying to determine how the man might have drowned.

PORT TOWNSEND — A 58-year-old Olympia man apparently drowned Monday after his skiff capsized in the water between Point Wilson and Point Hudson, the Peninsula Daily News reported.



The man was not immediately identified.

The Daily News said a pleasure craft saw the capsized skiff about a mile out in the water. Rescue workers sent out the site retrieved the man’s body.

It wasn’t known if he had a life vest on.


SEATTLE — Seattle firefighters called to a drowning at a hotel pool failed to find anyone inside the water. It was nearly three hours later that the body of a 27-year-old man was found inside the same pool by a guest at the hotel.


Tesfaye Deboch

Firefighters didn’t find the victim because once they got to the pool at Quality Inn & Suites Seattle Center, none of firefighters dived into the pool.

For hours, hotel guests continued to swim in the pool with a dead body beneath.

“That is unacceptable,” said hotel guest Linda Ford.

Tesfaye Deboch had drowned, but it took a hotel guest to find his body at the bottom of the pool, about 8 feet down.  A friend initially called 911 saying Deboch was struggling in the water. Since no one saw the victim go under, however, firefighters believed the man had made it out of the pool and was somewhere inside the hotel.

“This is a learning incident,” said Seattle Fire Chief Gregory Dean.

On Friday, Dean released a report that consisted of an analysis of the June 30 incident.

“They thought they could see the bottom of the pool as well as everybody else that was there,” said Dean.

The report also listed specific recommendations on how firefighters could improve its standard procedure.

During the incident, firefighters only used a pole and a thermal imaging camera to sift through the water. When they found nothing, firefighters canceled the call before dive teams arrived.

“That is unfortunate,” said hotel guest Linda Ford.

Quality Inn’s pool has been shut down since that day but it’s not because of the drowning. The emergency shut off for the pool’s drain was not working and a number of other violations were discovered immediately after the drowning.

“A pool that is used in a highly populated area wouldn’t be following regulations and safety measure that’s really disturbing,” said  a hotel guest.

“It kind of makes you wonder what other kind of stuff is going on,” said Ford.

Others were in disbelief saying firefighters did not use common sense.

“Anytime there is movement in the water or something going on with the water there is masking so you may not see things,” said Dean.

It’s a lesson too little too late for the graduate student.

“We are going to look at our practices to see if there is things we can improve,” said Dean.

The Seattle Fire Department could be changing its procedure in the near future. A committee reviewing the case came up with several recommendations. For one, even if firefighters cancel a report of a drowning, a dive team will still be required to check out the scene.

Firefighters are also expected to be trained on how to best locate a victim below the surface of a pool.

Right now Seattle firefighters are not required to know how to swim, the fire chief says they will be looking into that issue to see if that needs to be changed.

drowningBREMERTON — A 41-year-old Port Orchard man drowned when a small boat he and two other men were in sank in Panther Lake, about 10 miles west of Bremerton, the Mason County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.

The man, Anthony Steven Asuelo, died Friday night.

The sheriff’s office said Asuelo and two other men decided to take a “very small boat” out in the lake without oars or life jackets in order to fish, the sheriff’s office said.  As it began to get dark, and the men were using their hands to paddle back, the boat began to sink.  Asuelo disappeared under the water, while the other two men were able to swim to shore.

Asuelo’s body was later recovered from the bottom of the lake.


19-year-old nearly drowns in Twin Lakes in Marysville

ambulanceMARYSVILLE — A 19-year-old Marysville who had been swimming in Twin Lakes with friends went under the water and failed to surface Friday.  Rescue teams pulled him from the water later and rushed to Providence Hospital with “critical injuries,” Marysville police Cmdr. Jeff Goldman said.

At about 4:25 p.m., Marysville police officers and members of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office “Dive Team” responded to Twin Lakes in Marysville regarding a possible drowning.

Witnesses said the 19-year-old Marysville man was swimming with others when he was seen going under the water and failed to surface.

No other details were immediately available.