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Body of Bellevue dad recovered from Lake Washington

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Mercer Island police said they have recovered the body of a Bellevue man from Lake Washington.

The man jumped into the water near Meydenbauer Bay to try and save his child, who went overboard Wednesday night just before 7 p.m. The child is okay.

The Mercer Island Marine Patrol confirmed he was resting in 100 feet of water and a remote-operated vehicle was used to pull the man up.

His body was taken to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office, which will determine his cause and manner of death.

Police said the water in Lake Washington where the father went under is so deep — about 110 feet — that Mercer Island police had to bring in a third-party company that had technology likened to an underwater drone, which can light and search the bottom of the lake using high-definition cameras.

Neighbors who saw the search efforts Wednesday night said many people tried to help, but no one could get to the father fast enough before he disappeared underwater.

“It looked as if the helicopter was going right across my kitchen windows. And I thought that’s very low,” said a neighbor, who saw the U.S. Coast Guard’s search.

“It’s just shocking,” said Drew Sharp, another neighbor. “They were out there for a long time — a lot of resources,” he said.

Mercer Island police said the man had rented a motorboat in Kirkland. He was near Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Bay with two friends and his two children ages 6 and 4, respectively.

Just before 7 p.m., witnesses said his daughter went overboard, and the father jumped in after her.

The child was wearing a life jacket, but the father was not.

Witnesses said other people saw the commotion and immediately tried to assist.

“The two yachtsmen dived overboard to help. That’s why their yachts were drifting towards our property here,” Sharp said. He said he noticed their two small sailboats capsized and saw two young men in life jackets in the water. The Bellevue Fire Department confirmed they were teens who were trying to help.

Mercer Island police said the good Samaritans were from a nearby sailing club and managed to pull the child out of the water.

They also tried to rescue the father, but he had submerged.

“They actually witnessed the man going under,” said Lt. Camari Olson with the Bellevue Fire Department.

A massive search and rescue response came out to try to find and save the father, including dive teams, but the water in the area where he went under was just too deep.

“Even the dive teams at depths of over 100 feet — they just don’t have that capability,” Olson said.

Search crews were back out on the water on Thursday morning but now call it a recovery effort. Police managed to pinpoint the location where the man went underwater using video footage from a neighbor in the area on Thursday morning. As of Thursday afternoon, they had not yet found the man.

“It kind of breaks my heart,” a neighbor said. “I’m so sad for the family and everybody who knew them,” she said.

The fire department stated while the air feels warm, the water is still very cold. It can quickly weaken your muscles, and it becomes easy to slip under the water — something that usually happens quietly. They’re warning you about that danger ahead of the hot weekend.

Mercer Island and Bellevue police are investigating.

As for the victim, a GoFundMe has been set up as family and friends mourn the loss of the man.

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