PYSHT — A Clallam County man died overnight Saturday near Deep Creek after the boat he and his girlfriend were in capsized, said Sgt. John Hollis of the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office.
Hollis said a deputy and a U.S. Border Patrol agent recovered 36-year-old Ryan Romero’s body after doing a second search early Sunday morning.
Crews from the Sheriff’s Office, Border Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard, Clallam Fire District No. 4 and Clallam Fire District No. 5 responded to the accident just after 11 p.m. Saturday, officials said.
The girlfriend, who swam to shore, was treated for mild hypothermia, said Alex Baker, chief of Clallam Fire District No. 4.
Hollis said the couple was staying on property in the area, which is between the West Twin River and Pysht, when they decided to take out a 15-foot boat.
As the weather worsened, foot-tall waves rocked the boat and the current became stronger, Hollis said. It was about freezing and was snowing.
Neither wore a life vest and Romero was wearing hip waders when the boat capsized, Hollis said.
“She swam to shore with him behind her and as they came in, he was behind her coaching ‘keep going, baby,’ ” Hollis said she told him.
When she got close enough to shore she could feel the rocks with her feet, Romero’s headlight went out and she heard him coughing. When she made it to shore, she called for help.
A Coast Guard helicopter did a pass over the area and a Coast Guard 47-foot motor lifeboat joined the search.
Hollis said an autopsy may be scheduled to confirm that Romero had drowned.
“While we deeply regret the loss of life, it shows multiple emergency agencies partnering together to help serve and protect our small communities in very tough situations,” Baker said. “All the agencies … did an exemplary job.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].