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Five Drown In Separate Accidents Two Kids, Great-Aunt Killed When Boat Capsizes On Columbia

The bodies of five people were pulled from Eastern Washington waters over the weekend in three separate accidents.

One accident killed two children and their great-aunt. High winds and 6-foot swells capsized their boat Saturday night on the Columbia River near Wanapum Dam. Four others in the boat swam to safety.

The boat sank about 7:30 p.m. Rebecca Cline, 3, and her brother, Nicholas Bailey, 6, both of Yakima, were pronounced dead about 10:35 p.m. at Yakima Memorial Hospital.

Their great-aunt, Lerene Bougher, 37, of Seattle, was pronounced dead at the scene.

“It was a very tragic weekend,” said Penny Sibley, Grant County coroner.

Winds on the Columbia River reached 40 to 50 mph late Saturday, and swells crested near 6 feet, said Bill Wiester, Grant County sheriff.

When the boat started sinking about two miles downstream from Vantage Bridge, one of the seven on board swam to shore. Jeff Cline, 30, of Yakima, hailed a passing vehicle and called 911 from a cellular phone.

As he talked to the Grant County Sheriff’s Department, he watched the boat slip under the water. Cline’s children and wife were dumped into the river, along with Bougher, her boyfriend and another woman.

By the time sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and ambulances arrived, Cline’s wife, Pam Cline, 26, and Kimberly Peters, 17, had made it to shore.

The sheriff’s department took out two rescue boats to look for the other four boaters.

Deputies found the overturned boat within minutes, floating bow up about 3/4 of a mile upstream from Wanapum Dam, 18 miles south of George, Wash.

Five minutes later, rescuers spotted the three victims. Workers unsuccessfully tried to revive the children and their great-aunt.

Meanwhile, deputies in the other boat found Bougher’s boyfriend, Eric Macias. He was stranded on rocks at the base of a cliff, unable to climb to safety because of exhaustion and hypothermia.

None of the victims wore life preservers, Wiester said.

Also Saturday, a Ukrainian man drowned in Soap Lake in Grant County. Konstantin Trotsyuk, 72, drowned about 12:15 p.m. He had been visiting his son in Renton. The two went to Soap Lake for the weekend.

On Sunday morning, Joel Garcia, 18, of Mesa, was found floating on the Columbia River about 10 miles west of Pasco.

Garcia was last seen about 3:30 a.m. last Monday, when he was drinking outside his home with friends, according to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department.

, DataTimes

Tags: drowning