Search resumes for body of missing boy
- Jim Redden
- Portland Tribune - News
Update • Some details released on sinking of fishing boat
The search has resumed for the body of a 13-year-old boy missing in the Columbia River. He is presumed drowned, according to the Clark County Sheriff's Office.
The U.S. Coast Guard reports that a 15-foot boat sank in the river near Camas sometime before 10:20 a.m. Monday. Nearby fishermen rescued the two adults from the river, but could not find the boy.
On Tuesday the sheriff's office identified the two adults as Eric Schmalz, 34, of Sedro-Wooley, Wash., and Robert Schmalz, 59, of Marysville, Wash. Eric is the stepfather of the missing boy, whose name was not released.
According to the sheriff's office, the boat, an 18-foot Smokercraft owned and operated by Robert Schmalz, had been anchored near the east end of Lady Island on the Columbia River. About 10:15 a.m., the trio attempted to pull the anchor up and planned to motor to a different fishing spot.
According to the investigation, the anchor became snagged on the bottom and they were unable to retrieve it by hand. Robert Schmalz attempted to use the power of the vessel engine to pull anchor loose with the anchor line secured to the boat transom. The vessel lost steerage and turned, now pointing downstream. The strong river current and taunt anchor line pulled the vessel stern under, quickly swamping the boat and capsizing it.
All three occupants were thrown into the river. None of the three were wearing personal flotation devices - lifejackets - at the time of the mishap, although adequate PFDs were on board.
The Clark County and Multnomah County Marine Patrol units will conduct a second search of the area Tuesday using sonar and high definition echo sounder to attempt to locate the missing teenager. Subsequent SAR efforts will be dependant on river level and conditions This investigation is still on-going although no criminal charges are anticipated at this time.
Numerous agencies responded to help. They included the Coast Guard, the Clark County Sheriff's Office Marine Patrol, the Port of Camas, SWORD (Southwest Washington Organized Rescue Divers), the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Water Rescue Unit and Portland Fire and Rescue, which brought its dive team.
The family is reportedly from the Seattle area.
The boat sank near Lady Island, which is a popular spot for water sports, especially during holidays. On July 9, 2011, alone, nine people were rescued at this area of the Columbia River.
The investigation into the sinking will be conducted by the Clark County Sheriff's Marine Patrol.
KOIN Local 6 contributed to this story.