Tylor McFarland, 25, of Lynnwood, his 17-year-old stepsister, another friend and their dog were rafting on the Yakima River, 8 miles west of Cle Elum on Friday night when their raft hit a log, sending them all into the dark, fast-moving water.
All three came to the surface and were trying to swim to shore. But the stepsister and friend later told the Kittitas County Sheriff Department that they lost sight of McFarland.
A neighbor heard cries for help and called 911.
Deputies and local firefighters came to the river shortly after midnight Saturday and found the friend and stepsister safely out of the river. The family dog was stranded on the far side of the river. At about 4 o’clock Saturday morning, divers recovered McFarland’s body from the river bottom about 30 feet from shore.
The survivors said they frequent the family cabin just west of where the incident occurred and float the river often, the last time being two weeks earlier.
None of the rafters wore life jackets. The tree they hit had fallen across the current sometime in the last week.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends for their loss,” the sheriff department said in a statement. “We remind people of the risks associated with rafting at night and recommend wearing life jackets. We also encourage people to contact the Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit (509-925-8534) for information on current conditions and regulations”
Deputies were able to retrieve the dog, uninjured.