One Brinnon man died and three kayakers were saved in separate water-related incidents in Brinnon in the past week.
Richard La Rue, 64, of Brinnon, died Sept. 14 in Brinnon after he fell into the water off Black Point Road while riding a personal watercraft (PWC).
He was not wearing a life jacket or flotation device, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO).
Sheriff’s deputies and members of Brinnon Fire Rescue responded at 1:10 p.m., Sept. 14 to a 911 call reporting a man in a wet suit facedown in water roughly 50 feet offshore at 2150 Black Point, according to Art Frank, JCSO chief criminal investigator.
“He was heard by the 911 caller yelling as he swam back to try to get to the PWC,” Frank wrote in an email about the incident. The craft was a Polaris personal watercraft.
Frank noted that wearing a life vest is required at all times when riding a personal watercraft.
“The water was rough, and there were wind-driven whitecaps present,” Frank wrote in a report.
Determination of the exact cause of death is pending an autopsy. Jefferson County coroner Mike Haas said the presumed cause is salt-water drowning but it is still pending.
Three days later, on Sept. 17 at 9:30 a.m., JCSO and Brinnon Fire Rescue responded to a call of three people unable to get back into their kayaks and having trouble in rough seas about a half mile offshore of Brinnon.
Deputies and fire personnel responded in the sheriff’s vessel, Integrity, and were able to pull three men out of the water at 10:24 a.m., according to Frank.
“When found, they were huddled together. They were in waves that were wind-driven at about 3 to 5 feet and still approximately one-eighth of a mile from shore,” he said.
Frank said the men did not have personal flotation vests on, but did wear wet suits appropriate for enduring water temperatures in the 50s.
Frank said there had been at least 10 kayakers at one point.
The kayakers were dropped off at Camp Parsons.
When the sheriff’s boat arrived, one of the kayaks was still floating and another could not be found, Frank said.