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Teenager drowns in Hayden Lake

Sun., May 20, 2007

A Rathdrum teenager drowned Saturday at Hayden Lake during a canoe outing.

Divers pulled the body of 17-year-old Branden T. Castleton from the murky water of Mokins Bay on the lake’s eastern edge. He was airlifted to Kootenai Medical Center, but efforts to revive him were not successful. Castleton had been in the water for more than an hour.

Another boy in the canoe, Colin V. Chambers, was able to swim to safety. Chambers, 17, is also a Rathdrum resident.

Neither boy was wearing a life jacket, nor were there any in the canoe, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff Department. The accident was reported at 12:34 p.m. Sheriff’s deputies aren’t sure if the 15-foot red Coleman canoe capsized or if the boys jumped into the water.

Justyn Palmer was fishing for pike on the shoreline when he heard a splash. He looked up to see the two boys in the lake.

“I thought I heard them laughing and giggling at first, so I didn’t pay much attention,” said Palmer, a resident of Anaconda, Mont. “Then I heard one of them screaming for help.”

He grabbed his binoculars. He spotted one boy swimming across the bay, and the other slow down and begin to struggle.

Chambers was shouting frantically to his friend, Palmer said. “He said, ‘Rip off your clothes! You’ll swim better.’ “

Palmer was one of several people who dialed 911. Two people out in a kayak went to look for Castleton but couldn’t find anything.

Nick Wright also saw the accident. The Hayden man was fishing at the edge of East Hayden Lake Road, several hundred feet from Palmer.

Wright saw the two boys trying to right a canoe that had flipped over in the middle of Mokins Bay. When they began yelling, he ran to nearby Camp Mivoden for help.

Marine deputies arrived by boat at 1:20 p.m. and sent two divers to look for Castleton. He was found in about 10 to 15 feet of water. The Northern Lakes Fire Department also responded to the accident.

The Sheriff’s Department noted in a press release that the water temperature in the lake Saturday was about 55 degrees. The U.S. Coast Guard considers water below 70 degrees “cold water.”

A sheriff’s spokesman said wearing a life jacket this time of year is essential to surviving cold water temperatures.


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