Body Believed to Be Randle Man Who Drowned in Riffe Lake Recovered


The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Dive Rescue Team, assisted by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol, located and recovered a deceased male just after 2 p.m. on Tuesday during their search of Riffe Lake for a 36-year-old Randle man believed to have drowned on Monday. 

“It is believed the decedent is the individual reported to have drowned the day prior, and no further searches are being conducted,” the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office stated in a news release Tuesday afternoon. 

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and the Lewis County Coroner’s Office continue to investigate the incident. 

The coroner’s office will release details on the identity of the decedent, as well as cause and manner of death, when available. 

According to the sheriff’s office, deputies were dispatched to Riffe Lake for a report of a possible drowning at about 3 p.m. on Monday. 

The first deputy to arrive was able to enter the lake on a private boat while other members of the sheriff’s office marine patrol were on the way. 

“Witnesses from two different vessels advised a 36-year-old male of Randle had attempted to swim to shore from an inoperative vessel,” according to a news release from the sheriff’s office. “They advised the male began to swim a short distance, but then appeared to be in distress.

A boat providing a tow to the inoperative vessel disconnected and attempted to rescue the male, but they were unable to reach him in time.”

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Dive Rescue Team responded to assist in recovery of the individual but they were unsuccessful prior to nightfall. 

The team restarted their search today.

“Unfortunately, Lewis County is not a stranger to these types of tragedies and we would like to remind the public that while warm weather has finally arrived, the water within our lakes and other bodies of water remain cold and have a potential to be hazardous,” the sheriff’s office wrote in the release. 

Cold water shock is a physical response to sudden immersion in cold water that can occur in water up to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, but is most common in water 59 degrees or colder.

When the body is immersed in cold water, there’s a large gasp followed by an increase in heart rate and faster breathing, which in itself can lead to drowning within the first three minutes of immersion, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. After three minutes — potentially less, depending on how cold the water is — the body begins to lose motor skills and experience the onset of hypothermia and a loss of cognitive function. And the act of swimming increases the body’s cooling rate by up to 40%, making those symptoms worse and decreasing the victim’s ability to rescue themselves.