A Spokane man is presumed dead after falling into Clear Lake early Saturday, drowning after an aluminum fishing boat he was in capsized.
Deputies believe James La Salle, 49, died because of a lost fishing pole and life jackets that weren’t worn.
La Salle was a poor swimmer or couldn’t swim at all, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department reported. But he wasn’t wearing any of the life preservers that were aboard.
Sheriff’s spokesman David Reagan said La Salle and a friend, David Albertson, were fishing early, about 7:30 a.m. A fishing rod went overboard, and one or both men went after it.
The boat flipped over, tossing both men out. Albertson tried to help La Salle and failed, Reagan said.
Albertson swam to the boat, clung to it, and called for his friend.
“And that’s the last we’ve seen of Mr. La Salle,” Reagan said.
At least four marine deputies scoured the waters from the surface to its depths. They found nothing. Searchers gave up at about 1:45 p.m., but are expected to return today.
“Part of the problem with the lakes around here is, the more you’re in, the murkier it gets,” Reagan said. All the movement stirs up the bottom, making it difficult to see.
“And of course, there are physical limitations on the divers,” Reagan said.
There are about 30 drownings in Washington each year, Reagan said. “And this is typical of the kind of drowning that could have been prevented.”