Woman rescued, man dies after boat capsizes in Tulalip Bay

by: Frank Field Updated:

TULALIP, Wash. - A Mountlake Terrace woman is recovering from hypothermia after falling from a small boat Friday night in Tulalip Bay near Marysville. A man who was in the boat with her died, said Coast Guard officials. 

People who live around the bay reported hearing screams for help around 10:30 p.m. Friday night. 

Three rescue agencies sprung to action. Tulalip tribal authorities and Snohomish County deputies searched Tulalip Bay by boat, and a Coast Guard helicopter searched from above.  They pulled a woman in her mid-40s from the water around 11 p.m.

The woman was holding a life jacket.  She had hypothermia and couldn’t say much. Authorities said they didn't how  she got tossed from the boat in calm weather.

Lt. Rodney Rochon of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said,  "This is 11 o'clock at night in a very small boat, 8- to 10-foot boat, and a small outboard motor. Not the time of day to be out in that type of boat.”

The body of the man who was with her wasn’t found until around 4:30 a.m. Saturday. He was wearing a life vest, but by then, he had been in cold water for several hours.

“It’s our belief that because of the length of time in the water, and the fact the water was 47 degrees,” Rochon said, the victim “succumbed to possibly hypothermia.”

Searchers said there’s evidence the two had been drinking.  They describe the couples’ life jackets as old and shabby.  KIRO 7 asked a life jacket expert, Bob Starita of West Marine in Seattle, who told us old life jackets will still work as long as they aren’t damaged and fit properly.

“If the straps are shot, no good. If there’s a big tear in here, my floatation can start slipping out of there, and now I’ve got nothing,” he said.

He said life vests will not keep a person’s body warm either.

At the last check, the woman is still in critical condition at a hospital in Everett. Neither of the victims have been identified.