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Two dead after rafting accident on Nooksack River

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A commercially-operated river raft carrying four customers and one guide flipped over in a rapid on the North Fork of the Nooksack River June 14. Two passengers died.

John Coleman, 55, of Berkeley, California, and his 10-year-old son died when they were swept away downriver after the raft overturned, Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) spokesperson Deb Slater told Mount Baker Experience in an email.

The son’s name was not released. Neither was the name of the rafting company nor the names of anyone else on the raft.

The raft overturned around 3 p.m. June 14 in the Nooksack near the Snowline neighborhood in Glacier, Slater previously said. The guide was able to save two women aboard the raft, but Coleman and his son were swept downstream.

WCSO deputies dispatched Summit to Sound swift water rescue technicians, K-9 and drone operators. Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) and a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) helicopter responded.

Local kayakers affiliated with Glacier Fire and Rescue found the body of one of the men at 7:30 p.m. June 14 submerged in a log jam about a half-mile from where the raft flipped. Search operations were suspended at dusk and resumed the following morning.

A CBP helicopter spotted the body of the missing man downriver of the Highway 542 bridge west of Glacier at 3:45 p.m. June 15.

According to the Whatcom County Medical Examiner’s Office, the cause of death of the first man was determined to be drowning, and it is believed the second man drowned as well but has not yet been determined. Slater said neither had any signs of trauma.

Both were wearing wetsuits, helmets and lifejackets, she said.

This story was updated June 22 to include the name and ages of the deceased.