Two men died over the weekend after their pickup rolled into a remote Okanogan County lake and they froze in the water.
Okanogan County Sheriff Jim Weed said the men apparently died of hypothermia after the accident during Friday’s cold weather.
So far this year, six men have died in cold-related deaths in the region.
The men who died in Okanogan County were last seen drinking at a nearby bar. “There’s a high probability that alcohol at least contributed to the accident,” Weed said.
A passerby discovered their bodies frozen into the lake Saturday. The victims are Steve A. Hanke, 45, Loomis, Wash., and Gary Conner, 58, San Diego.
They were last seen about 3 p.m. Friday in a bar in Conconully, five miles south of Sugar Loaf Lake where they died.
Their pickup rolled 50 feet off an unplowed forest road and crashed into the ice-covered lake. Both men were found outside the pickup in the water three feet from the shore.
It appeared that Conner made it out of the water, then tied a rope around his waist and returned in an attempt to rescue Hanke, Weed said.
“These people were in a really remote area,” Weed said. “It probably would have been difficult for them to walk from the accident scene to Conconully had they been properly equipped, dry and sober.”
Last week, two men died after becoming stranded in southern Stevens County. Authorities believed the men died of hypothermia, carbon monoxide poisoning or a combination of both.
In East Hope, Idaho, two men who tried to drive across a frozen bay on Lake Pend Oreille early Saturday died when their car plunged through the ice.