Clark County man presumed drowned after boat found drifting on Columbia

Clark County man presumed drowned after boat found drifting on Columbia »Play Video
Jay Jones

CLARK COUNTY, Wash. – A Battle Ground man is presumed drowned after the Clark County sheriff’s office found his boat drifting on the Columbia River near the mouth of the Lewis on Saturday evening, deputies said.

Jay Jones, 25, is the owner of a 16-foot aluminum boat that was reported drifting unoccupied down the river with the motor running around 5:30 p.m. One person who called 911 reported seeing a person in the water.

Neighbors joined the Coast Guard and two marine patrols in looking for Jones, but couldn’t find him.

Deputies weren’t sure if Jones was wearing a life-jacket.

"Helicopters hovering, Coast Guard boats with family and friends out there putting on their own search. I can't even imagine what those guys are going through right now," said Cody Riley.

Riley fishes this area twice a month. He watched the search effort Sunday afternoon. Sometimes he stays on the shore, sometimes he goes out on a 14-foot aluminum boat just like the one Jay Jones was riding in when he disappeared.

"It's nothing to mess around with on a small boat out there," Riley said.

Riley says those types of boats don't handle rough conditions very well. He's worried Jones may have hit a piece of driftwood or any of the other types of debris that are hidden all along the river just under the surface.

"A lot of stuff under the water you don't know of. There's some crazy currents. If I go in the water out in the middle, it's a long swim to the shore," Riley said.

The Coast Guard used advanced sonar technology to scour the waters, but they didn't find anything.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.