By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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FORKS — The search for a missing 79-year-old Sequim man was suspended Sunday, two days after the man disappeared on the Bogachiel River.
He was identified by the Clallam County Sheriff's Office on Sunday afternoon as William “Bill” Rusk, a retired engineer who recently moved to Sequim from California.
A sport fisherman found a life jacket Saturday, which was confirmed as belonging to the Rusk, Sheriff's Sgt. Brian King said.
“At some point, he was separated from his life preserver,” King said.
Rusk has been missing Friday night after his fishing partner, Mark Roller, 54, of Vancouver, B.C., called 9-1-1 at about 5 p.m. to report that their unpowered drift boat was taking on water and being pushed down the swollen river.
Roller told deputies that the two men put the boat in at the Bogachiel Way boat launch, just above the Bogachiel River's confluence with the Calawah River.
They had just put the boat in the water when the strong river currents pushed the boat up against vegetation on the bank, causing it to take on water.
Roller was able to swim to shore, but Rusk stayed with the boat and was taken downstream with the current while clinging to the life vest, sheriff's deputies were told.
The boat later was found submerged and capsized about 1½ miles downriver from the launch.
While the ground search along the banks of the river was called off Sunday morning, King said the Sheriff's Office was in close contact with the many fishermen who were in the waters of the Bogachiel for steelhead.
A local diver went into the river Sunday to retrieve the boat, which was removed at about 2:30 p.m. near the Wilson Road boat ramp.
“He was not found around the boat,” King said of Rusk.
Several divers drifted with the current Sunday afternoon, beginning with the boat's location, and were expected to search several of the Bogachiel River's deeper pools, known as “holes,” he said.
King said the divers may be able to see something from under the water that isn't visible from above.
“It's very murky. The visibility is poor,” he said.
The search also has included the U.S. Coast Guard and Clallam County search and rescue teams.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.