A Berkeley father and his 10-year-old son died in a river rafting accident last week on the Nooksack River in the northwest corner of Washington state.

The raft, carrying a family of four, flipped over in a rapid on June 14 near the Snowline area of Glacier, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, and the man and boy were swept away. A woman and a girl with them on the commercially operated raft survived, as did the raft’s guide. 

The Whatcom County Examiner’s Office identified the father as John Coleman, 55, and the son as Mason Coleman.

First responders were dispatched to the scene at about 3 p.m., and a K-9, drone operators and border patrol joined in the search.

The body of the 10-year-old was located around 7:30 p.m. by local kayakers. The following day, Coleman was found around 3:45 p.m. Authorities said both were wearing wetsuits, helmets and lifejackets.

Debbie Hollis, operations manager with the county medical examiner’s office, said the cause of death for both was freshwater drowning and hypothermia. She said the drowning was listed as an accident. 

July 2 update: A GoFundMe account has been set up for the family survivors, Tae Coleman, and her daughter. As of today, over $11,000 of a $15,000 goal has been raised to cover expenses.


Featured photo of the Nooksack River: Andrew Enns/Wikimedia Commons

Berkeleyside staff

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