One man found alive, another dead in water off Whidbey

One man was recovered alive and another man was found dead in the water west of North Whidbey on Thursday.

The men’s boat was not found and the Coast Guard is continuing to search the area.

Island County Coroner Robert Bishop said the cause of death for Richard Seay, 54, was drowning. He was from Marysville.

The other man, Michael Powers, is at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Battalion Chief Chris Swiger, with North Whidbey Fire and Rescue, said the department’s rescue boat responded twice to calls for a water rescue Thursday.

At about 5 a.m., first responders received a report of a capsized boat west of Deception Pass.

North Whidbey Fire and the Swinomish Tribal Police responded, but turned the boats back after encountering very rough weather, with swells up to six to eight feet, Swiger said.

The Coast Guard then reported that the report was unfounded.

At about 1 p.m., the fire department received a report of an unresponsive man found in the water about two miles off Joseph Whidbey State Park.

The boaters who found him brought him to the beach; he was transported to Fort Nugent Park, where a helicopter took him to Harborview.

Boats from North Whidbey Fire, Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue and East Jefferson Fire Rescue scoured the area, but the search was suspended after about an hour, with concurrence from the Coast Guard, the battalion chief said.

The two Whidbey boats did a slow search as they returned, he said.

About a half hour later, a Coast Guard helicopter radioed that a body was spotted in the water.

East Jefferson Fire returned and brought the body to Cornet Bay, where the coroner pronounced the man dead.

Petty Officer Trevor Lilburn, public affairs officer for Coast Guard Pacific Northwest, said indications are that Powers was wearing a life jacket, but Seay was not.

Powers is unable to communicate clearly, he said, so it’s still uncertain what occurred.

“There is no debris field, no indication of where it was,” he said.

According to the coroner, the men were on a 23-foot Duckworth boat.

Lilburn said the original call of a capsized boat is still considered unfounded.