Crime

Bellingham woman dies in Olympic National Park swimming accident

What is there to do at Olympic National Park

Olympic Nation Park on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, offers a number of different recreational and nature-loving experiences. Rangers take a quick look at the three distinct ecosystems in the park -- the coast, the mountains and the rain forests.
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Olympic Nation Park on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, offers a number of different recreational and nature-loving experiences. Rangers take a quick look at the three distinct ecosystems in the park -- the coast, the mountains and the rain forests.

A 30-year-old Bellingham woman died in an apparent swimming accident Thursday, Aug. 15, in Lake Crescent in the Olympic National Park.

Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols told The Bellingham Herald that the woman has been identified as Amelia Bethke.

Olympic National Park spokesperson Penny Wanger told The Herald that at approximately 6:26 p.m. Thursday, Bethke was rescued by a female friend who was swimming with her at the time. They were approximately 25 to 30 feet from shore at the time near West Barnes Point, or approximately milepost 225 along U.S. Highway 101.

Clallam County fire crews and National Park law enforcement rangers responded to the scene, Wagner said, and Bethke was taken to Olympic Medical Center, but life-saving efforts were unsuccessful.

The death is being investigated by the National Park Service, Wagner said, while the Clallam County coroner’s office will work to determine a cause of death.

Wagner said Bethke was described as an experienced surfer and swimmer, who was very active.

Temperatures in Crescent Lake can vary substantially this time of year, depending on depth and sunlight, Wagner said, “but it was the evening, so chances are the water was pretty cold.”

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.
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