By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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William “Bill” Rusk, a retired engineer who recently moved to Sequim from California, was last seen clinging to a sinking drift boat Friday.
A sport fisherman found a life jacket confirmed as belonging to Rusk on Saturday, and the boat was retrieved by divers Sunday, according to the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office called off the ground search late Saturday, and a river search by divers ended Sunday evening, said Ron Cameron, chief criminal deputy.
“The river is running very swift, very high and very cold,” Cameron said.
“We are probably in a recovery stage,” he said.
Cameron said Monday that at this point there will be no active search, but the Sheriff’s Office will respond to any lead that may direct searchers to a smaller area.
Rusk’s family members were not available for comment Monday.
Rusk has been missing since Friday, after his fishing partner, Mark Roler, 54, of Victoria, 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.
Roler 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.
Roler was able to swim to shore, but Rusk stayed with the boat and was taken downstream with the current while clinging to a life vest, sheriff’s deputies were told.
The boat later was found submerged and capsized about 1½ miles downriver from the launch.
Divers went into the river Sunday to retrieve the boat, which was removed at about 2:30 p.m. near the Wilson Road boat ramp.
Several divers drifted with the current Sunday afternoon beginning with the boat’s location and searched several of the Bogachiel River’s deeper pools, known as “holes.”
The search also has included the 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.