UPDATE: Body of Drowned Boater Pulled From American Lake; Identified As Franklin Harvey

Crews will try to recover the body soon, and it will be given to the Pierce County Medical Examiner. Authorities have yet to identify the victim.

UPDATE: 4:05 p.m., 10/10/2012

From Lakewood Police spokesman Chris Lawler:

The body of the missing boater has been recovered from the lake. Divers and Marine Services personnel from Lakewood PD, West Pierce Fire and Rescue and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department recovered the body a short time ago.  The body was taken to the LPD boathouse by our boat to await the arrival of the Medical Examiner. 

The body has positively been identified by the M.E. and detectives as Franklin Harvey.  The body is currently in the custody of the Pierce County Medical Examiner.


(Editor's note: I just got this from Lakewood Police spokesman Chris Lawler)

I just got a call from the on-scene folks out at American Lake. The body of the missing boater has been located on the bottom of the lake and attempts to recover the body will be underway shortly. Once the body is recovered, it will be turned over to the Pierce County Medical Examiner for an autopsy and positive identification.

LPD Detectives have confirmed with the family of the missing boater that all next of kin have been notified.  The name of the 63-year-old missing boater is Franklin Ray Harvey from Tacoma.

LPD Detectives updated me today on what the surviving boater told them happened on the boat.  The two brothers were out testing a boat that one of the brothers was considering purchasing.  They decided to take it to American Lake to run it before agreeing to buy it.  Once the boat was out on the lake, they had a little trouble getting the outdrive to come down, but eventually got it to work.

After taking a turn in the boat, they noticed steam coming from the engine compartment.  The boat has been described as an older Bayliner Inboard/Outboard.  They stopped the boat and removed the engine cover to look for the source of the steam.  They immediately noticed that the boat was rapidly taking on water through a hole by where the outdrive is connected to the stern of the boat.  The boat began to sink and both brothers made the decision to try and swim for shore.  They both grabbed a boat seat for floatation and began to swim.  The surviving brother realized he would not be able to make it and returned to the boat.  He looked for his brother and realized he had gone under the water.  The surviving brother was rescued by another boater on the lake who saw he was in distress.

The investigation is still ongoing and this is the latest information that we have at this time.  LPD is being assisted by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and West Pierce Fire and Rescue.

Brent Champaco October 10, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Several media outlets are identifying the victim as Franklin Ray Harvey of Tacoma.
Peter Eikenberry October 13, 2012 at 01:50 AM
I am retired Coast Guard. I fish on American Lake frequently and was out on the lake when this occurred but I was near Camp Murray at the time, so I was not aware of it until later that day. I spent over 20 years of my career in boating safety, and part of that was telling people to wear their life jacket and stay with the boat. This unfortunate case is a classic example. The one who stayed with the boat was saved and the one who swam for it drowned. They probably had a broken bellows between the stern drive and the boat. The bellows are there specifically to keep the water out. But they wear out. They need to be checked frequently and replaced every few years. As we have seen here they can swamp a boat rapidly one of the bellows (there are three) has a hole in it. However, the boat did not sink. It was equipped with flotation, which from the photographs in the press worked. That is why you stay with the boat. The boat is far easier for rescuers to see and provides the boat occupants a rescue platform. Outboard boats under 20 feet will even float relatively level, unlike this boat which has what is called basic flotation, that is, it floats with some part of the boat out of the water, usually the bow, as was the case here.
Kimberly Hice November 15, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Do not think less of my father, Frank. He wasn't an ordinary man. He has been on the water for possibly longer than you've been alive (more than half a century), in more boats than I can count. In sound physical shape, with years of experience and training, there is no reason in the world why he wouldn't have been able to swim for the shore and float on his back if he were tired. He absolutely had a flotation device (a cushion with armstraps) that he could hold onto. According to the survivor, my uncle, there was no sound or distress. He simply "lost grip" on his cushion and, at some point while my uncle had his back turned, silently slipped under the water. Personally, I suspect something caused him unable to hold on and remain conscious. I wish I had more details regarding the investigation, but at last notice, it was not complete.


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