BRINNON —The body of a man who drowned after rescuing his girlfriend from the cold water of the Duckabush River has been recovered near U.S. Highway 101 where the river meets the ocean just south of Brinnon.
The body of Jesse Cruz, 34, of Oakville was recovered just after noon Thursday, Arthur Frank, chief criminal deputy for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, said Friday.
Cruz’s family and friends were not available for comment Friday. However, Cruz’s cousin, David Ramirez, posted to the family’s GoFundMe page, which had been created to raise money for search and rescue dogs.
“Jesse’s body has been found. All proceeds will go toward his final arrangements,” Ramirez said.
“Thank you for everyone’s contribution. We have no words to even begin to describe how grateful we are. We have such wonderful people in our lives.”
Cruz’s body was found roughly 3.5 miles downstream of Rangers Hole, where Cruz was last seen swimming with friends June 17. The group was swimming in the river off Ranger Hole Trail in Olympic National Forest.
Cruz rescued his girlfriend, Tisha Newby, before disappearing into the river, which was running high and cold due to recent snowmelt, according to Brinnon Fire Chief Tim Manly.
Cruz’s friends reported that Cruz ran out of energy and was seen floating upriver.
Ramirez said Cruz’s friends Nick Stone, Tiffany Morris and Ryan Ward all jumped in to help but couldn’t reach Cruz.
The drowning was reported at about 5 p.m. June 17 and rescuers were dispatched immediately.
According to Manly, a crew of 19, including first responders from the Brinnon Fire Department, Jefferson County Search and Rescue, Olympic Mountain Rescue and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, searched the banks of the river from Rangers Hole to Highway 101 after Cruz went missing.
Searches continued at first light June 18.
Before his body was found, the Duckabush River conditions were being assessed by a swift-water diving team from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department to see whether they could safely search the river for Cruz’s body.
Cruz’s family started a GoFundMe to rent search and rescue dogs to come in and search as well. The fund quickly gained over $3,000 in donations in the first 24 hours. As of Saturday, $4,175 had been donated.
“Now it is time to put Jesse to rest,” Ramirez said on the GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/find-jesse-cruz.
“Let our thoughts and prayers be with the Cruz family. See you on the other side. We love you Jesse.”
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at email@example.com.