Lewis River death marks 3 river drownings in 3 days

Boater 80-year-old Donald Kemper was not wearing a life jacket

Clark County Sheriff's Office officials investigate the scene of a drowning on the North Fork of the Lewis River. (CCSO)
Clark County Sheriff's Office officials investigate the scene of a drowning on the North Fork of the Lewis River. (CCSO)

WOODLAND, Wash. (KOIN 6) — The drowning of an 80-year-old man in Clark County Monday, the third recreational river death in three days, has officials warning the public as boating season gets into full swing.

The body of  Donald Kemper, who was not wearing a life jacket on his 14-foot aluminum motorboat, was pulled from the North Fork Lewis River Tuesday.

Police encourage recreational boaters to wear a personal flotation device, and children twelve-years-old and younger must wear one, under U.S. law.

Kemper’s remains were found at the bottom of the river, roughly 8 to 10 feet down. It was recovered by divers, and then transferred to a medical examiner.

There were no witnesses to the apparent accidental drowning, and an investigation reveals Kemper was boating alone, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

A boater first reported a body in the water near the Lewis River Golf Course around 4 p.m. Monday afternoon. His small,  unoccupied fishing boat was located up-stream.

Kemper’s June 30 death marks the third drowning incident in three days.

June 29, a 25-year-old man went missing from his small boat near the mouth of the Lewis River, while July 1, a 44-year-old man died swimming near Moulton Falls.

An investigation into Kemper’s death from the Clark County Marine Patrol unit is pending.

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