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Medical Examiner Rules Wakeboarding Death on Lake Washington an Accidental Drowning

Nathan Bahner accidentally drowned, the King County Medical Examiner's Office concluded this morning after an autopsy in Seattle; Seattle police continue investigating the circumstances of his death.

Nathan Paul Bahner died from "asphyxia due to fresh water drowning" — in other words, he drowned—and , the King County Medical Examiner's Office concluded this morning after an autopsy earlier this week.

A spokesman for the office said he had no further details about the autopsy on Bahner, who died Friday, Aug. 10 in a wakeboarding accident on Lake Washington.

Information from the medical examiner's office did not explain how Bahner, 33, came to drown in while being towed behind a boat between Seward Park and Mercer Island. For instance, the spokesman did not know whether or not Bahner was wearing a helmet or a life jacket, or whether or not Bahner was attempting a aerobatic flip, as other media outlets have suggested.

Bahner, a married father of three children, worked as manager of locally-owned LeClercq Marine Construction, and managed two Seattle marinas owned by his father-in-law, , . A in his honor and a memorial service will be held tomorrow, Aug. 17 at 4 p.m. at the .

Seattle police have said they believed the death was an accidental, but declined repeated requests for further details on the investigation conducted by a traffic collision investigation team.

The boat's operator was arrested at the scene on suspicion of boating under the influence, but was later released pending further investigation. No charges have been filed.

Witnesses told Mercer Island Patch that Bahner was pulled immediately from the water following the accident around 6 p.m. on Aug. 10. The boat docked at a residential pier on the 7400 block of West Mercer Way and the boat operator and a friend performed CPR, but neither they nor a ambulance crew could revive him.

Seattle Police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said the investigation could take several weeks, if not months, to complete.

"This is a very lengthy, very meticulous investigative process," he said. "There's no such thing as a speedy resolution there."

Whitcomb compared the investigation to the 2008 death of Bellevue teacher Heather DeHart, who was killed when a boat operated by a Mercer Island teen accidentially collided with her vessel. That collision investigation took months to complete, he said.

dorimonsonfan August 17, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Please, please stop drinking and boating. As the father of a three year old who loves getting out on the water in a modest 14' 15 HP boat, drunk boaters limit me and my son's freedom to enjoy what our beautiful state has to offer. Drunk boaters usually limit us to weekdays only on the water, and as someone who works 9-5 m-f that's pretty constrictive. Would love to go out and see the blue angels on the lake too, but with 60-70 buis every seafair that would be insane. Just remember when you drink and boat you are playing Russian roulette with other people's lives. Condolences to the friends and family Nathan. Sounds like he was a great man who touched many lives.
Kendall Watson August 17, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Thanks Dorimonson fan for the comments. It's important to emphasize that in this tragedy, police are still investigating the circumstances of Nate's death and while the boat operator was arrested for BUI, the police have not linked the two at this time.

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