Brinnon woman who drowned mourned by community

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

BRINNON— A woman whose body was found last week after she died of drowning was well-known and liked, said one her knew her.

The body of Collete Scotta Russell, 46, who was reported missing Jan. 16, was discovered by a hiker on Blake Island, which is about midway between Seattle and the Kitsap Peninsula, on Tuesday, and identification was made Wednesday, Kitsap County sheriff spokesman Scott Wilson said.

“Everybody out here is so sick about this,” said Melissa Westervelt, owner of the Geoduck Tavern, where Russell was a regular customer.

“There was not a bad thing you could say about her,” Westervelt said.

“She was a wonderful person, and it hurts to lose her.”

Westervelt said Russell worked as a cook on fishing trawlers and was often away from her home in Brinnon for months at a time.

Westervelt didn’t have information about Russell’s family aside from a longtime companion whom she declined to name.

“He’s just devastated,” she said. “He doesn’t know what to do right now.

“I’m sure if you called him up, he’d tell you exactly where to go.”

Wilson said his office received a report about the body at about 3 p.m. Tuesday from a hiker, who had first called his wife “and then determined that he’d better call 9-1-1.”

Sheriff’s deputies and a representative of the Kitsap coroner’s office arrived on the island using a police boat about an hour later, taking the body to the coroner’s Bremerton facility, where an autopsy was conducted.

Wilson said the cause of death was drowning by salt water. Results of a toxicology screen have not been returned.

He said there was no sign of foul play, and the death was most likely accidental.

There were bumps on her head, but it was uncertain whether they occurred before or after she entered the water, Wilson said.

After entering the information into a police database, Wilson said his office received a call from the Port of Seattle, which had an open missing person’s report on Russell.

Peter McGrew, the port’s media officer, said Russell was a crew member on the Sea Fisher, moored at Seattle’s Pier 91, and was reported missing by a crew member when she missed her shift.

After the port contacted the coroner, the identification was verified and next of kin contacted, Wilson said.

Russell’s body remains in the morgue, Wilson said.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 25. 2014 6:02PM
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