Teen drowning victim identified

Search for body of Sedro-Woolley youngster continues

By Paris Achen and Paul Suarez

Published:

Updated: May 29, 2012, 8:42 PM

 
photo Jake Whitlock’s uncle, Taylor Carlson, told KATU that Jake was a cheerful teenager who loved fishing and playing sports. Jake drowned after the boat he was in sank Monday.

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photoRescue boats search the area Monday where a fishing boat capsized on the Columbia River near Camas. Three people on the boat went into the water. Two adults were rescued; a 13-year-old boy is still missing and presumed to have drowned.

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The 13-year-old boy missing since the boat he was in sank in the Columbia River on Monday has been publicly identified as Jake Whitlock of Sedro-Woolley.

Multiple sources, including Jake’s friends and family and those of his stepfather, Eric R. Schmalz of Sedro-Woolley, named the teenager in expressions of grief in posts on their Facebook profiles. The Clark County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the missing boy as Whitlock Wednesday morning.

Carlson told KATU that Jake was a cheerful teenager who loved fishing and playing sports.

“He couldn’t sit down; he was always going; he was always doing something,” Carlson said, according to KATU. “He had a real bright future ahead of him. Great in sports. God must have needed a quarterback or a center fielder at this point because there’s no other real reason he should be gone.”

KATU also reported that family members from northwest Washington were gathering Tuesday.

An exhaustive search and rescue effort was launched Monday by multiple agencies. Jake is presumed to have drowned. Deputies with Clark and Multnomah counties resumed the search early Tuesday. The body was not recovered.

The 18-foot Smokercraft sank at 10:15 a.m. while Jake, Schmalz, 34, and Schmalz’s father, Robert R. Schmalz, 59, of Marysville, were fishing for sturgeon near the eastern end of Lady Island, according to a Clark County Sheriff’s Office news release.

The boat, which was owned and operated by the elder Schmalz, was anchored near the island. When the group tried to move to another spot, the anchor became stuck, according to the sheriff’s office. Schmalz tried to use the boat’s engine to pull it loose. The vehicle lost steering, causing the stern to go under the water, the sheriff’s office said.

“It’s actually a common method for getting your anchor dislodged,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Fred Neiman.

The boat then was swamped with water.

Around that time, a man called 911 to report he saw a small boat had been entangled in the anchor line and overturned, throwing three people into the water.

Robert Schmalz was hospitalized at OHSU Hospital in Portland and is expected to fully recover. KATU reported he had a heart attack during the incident. His son was treated for mild exposure at the scene. Other boaters rescued both men.

Although there were personal flotation devices aboard the Smokercraft, the three weren’t wearing them at the time, according to the sheriff’s office.

Deputies with Clark and Multnomah county used sonar and an echo sounder Tuesday to try to find the missing teenager.

The investigation is ongoing. No criminal charges were anticipated Tuesday, according to the release.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Trends;http://facebook.com/ColTrends;paris.achen@columbian.com.