A week of waiting and wondering ended Saturday when the body of a Finley teen was found by a boater on the Columbia River near Wallula.
Timmy Bowden's family and the Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office were searching for the 14-year-old since he went missing late June 23, when the boat he was in sank.
Around 2 p.m. Saturday, a boater spotted what looked like a body on Crescent Island, which is near the Boise Cascade plant, said Walla Walla County Sheriff John Turner.
A boat with sheriff's deputies on board went to Crescent Island and confirmed it was Timmy, he said.
"As sad as his drowning is, we're happy that we were able to locate his body and bring some closure and peace to his family," Turner told the Herald.
Timmy drowned in the Snake River near Hood Park. He was with his father and three others in a 16-foot johnboat that sank shortly after it left the boat launch at the park near Burbank.
No one was wearing life jackets. The other four people made it back to shore, but Timmy was not seen again. The boat was found about 25 feet from the boat launch.
Searchers with the sheriff's office had been going up and down the Snake River all week trying to locate Timmy's body. They used volunteer divers with Columbia Basin Dive Rescue, numerous resources from local agencies, and called an Idaho company that has a boat with a special side-scanning sonar to help.
On Saturday, the Ralston & Associate's boat from Idaho and boats with sheriff's deputies were out searching, along with volunteers from the sheriff's office's search and rescue team, Turner said.
The focus of the search had been in the Snake River near Hood Park, but because there were extra boats on the water Saturday, the search and rescue team began expanding the search to the Columbia River, he said.
"We had actually gone out in the Columbia and were headed that way," Turner said. "That was ground we would have covered by dark."
Crescent Island is about seven miles downstream of the Snake River and about two miles upstream from the mouth of the Walla Walla River. It also is southeast across the Columbia River from Hover Park in Finley.
Family members said Timmy, who was going to start his freshman year at River View High School, was kind and caring, and loved participating in athletic activities.
Benton County sheriff's Deputy Joe Lusignan, a school resource officer in Finley, said he'd seen Timmy play basketball at the middle school, and the high school coaches already were paying attention to him.
"He showed a lot of promise on the basketball court," Lusignan told the Herald. "He was a kid they were looking at with the potential athletic skills, but not only that, he was an extremely good kid."
The schools are the center of the community in Finley, and "when they lose somebody like that, it's going to hit Finley pretty hard," he said.
"The way the Finley community is and the way they turn to each other ... the community will need to, and will rally around the family to lift each other up," Lusignan said.
It also has been a tough week in Walla Walla County, Sheriff Turner said, which started for him with the funeral service last Saturday for Army 1st Lt. Mathew Fazzari, who was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. A Pasco motorcyclist was killed that Saturday afternoon in a crash on Highway 12, just west of Walla Walla; then late Saturday, Timmy drowned at Hood Park.
On Wednesday, 13-year-old Christian Espinoza of Pasco drowned at Casey Pond near Burbank after he fell while playing along the shoreline, there the following night, a 16-year-old Burbank student died of natural causes, Turner said.
Turner said he's thankful and proud of his deputies and all the agencies and volunteers who helped out during each tragedy. The sheriff's office was aided by Franklin County and Benton County sheriff's offices, the Coast Guard, Columbia Basin Dive Rescue, the Ralstons, and volunteer search and rescue team members.
"Everyone has done a great job and worked hard and worked long together," Turner said. "I really hope that these last two drownings and tragedies aren't in vain and these are a reminder to people to please boat safely, swim safely and use safety practices and wear a life vest."