A 14-year-old boy presumed drowned Sunday was on a boat that sank soon after it was launched on the Snake River, said a family member.
Tayly Stegen, 22, of Burbank, said her brother, Timmy Bowden, was with their father, James Bowden, her boyfriend, Verland Gaskill, and two family friends when they launched from Hood Park.
"They pulled out of the dock, and it went under," she said, adding that she believes her brother was strong enough to make it to shore and merely is lost. Stegen was not at the park at the time of the launch, she said, but pointed out the boat was small and had too many passengers.
The missing Finley teen, who plays three sports, is scheduled to be a freshman at River View High School later this summer.
Law enforcement searched the river much of Sunday and were on the water briefly Monday morning but weren't expected to be out again searching until today.
A few good Samaritans from the Mid-Columbia also conducted a search Monday morning before being called off by the Walla Walla Sheriff's Office. Undersheriff Eddie Freyer said the boat ramp is open and the public is free to be on the water but said any formal search needed to be "under the guidance of the sheriff's office."
Stegen said she and her family and friends were barbecuing in Burbank before her brother, father, boyfriend and the two other family friends left for the river.
All but Timmy Bowden made it to shore.
Columbia Basin Dive Rescue was called to the boat ramp at Hood Park just before midnight Sunday. No one on the boat was wearing a life jacket, said Scott Ruppelius, spokesman for Dive Rescue. The sunken boat, described by some as a 16-foot johnboat, was found 25 feet from the dock.
Along with Dive Rescue, the Walla Walla Sheriff's Office and U.S. Coast Guard searched the river. The Franklin County Sheriff's Office used its SARbot, an underwater search robot, and Washington State Fish and Wildlife also had a boat searching the water Sunday.
Dive Rescue searched along the riverbank briefly Monday morning, said Burbank resident Chris Mosher, who was on the water searching in his boat. He said he doesn't know the family but was compelled to help.
"I just know that if my family was involved, I'd do the same thing and expect others to do the same," he said.
Mark Allen, a drowning prevention specialist and trained diver from Kennewick, also was out at the park with volunteer Rusty Bachman, a Kennewick firefighter.
They joined Mosher in his boat and used Allen's underwater camera to search the river. Allen said visibility in the water is good, but the river bottom where the boat sank includes many large rocks.
Allen wanted to get in the water and conduct a search and called the Walla Walla Sheriff's office to seek approval, but he was told not to search.
"He just didn't like that it wasn't coordinated," Allen said after a phone conversation with Walla Walla Sheriff John A. Turner.
Dive Rescue, a volunteer organization, previously said it would resume searching again today. Freyer of the Walla Walla Sheriff's Office said his team was delayed in getting back on the water because the agency needed to make a repair to its boat.
Stegen said she was frustrated that law enforcement officials were not searching for her brother. She and other family members said they also were angry the sheriff's office called off volunteer searchers Monday.
"If they're not doing anything, why can't we?" Stegen said.
She also said she believes Timmy is alive, noting he worked out twice a day and was a three-sport athlete. She asked people to help search the river bank for him.
"He's so strong," she said. "He's too strong for him to not make it to shore. He worked out all the time."
-- Ty Beaver: 582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org