UPDATE: Klamath Boating Accident Victim Identified


At 10:30 a.m. today, a Yurok Tribal Police Department officer assisted a sheriff's deputy to recover the body of James Dennis Cook, also known as Major. Cook's body was tangled up in branches and brush in the river. He had been missing since last Friday following a boating accident. The Humboldt County Coroner's Office will conduct an autopsy to determine cause of death.


The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office has called off its search for a 63-year-old man who went missing on the Klamath River on Friday evening. The man, who was boating with friends, was on one of two boats that capsized in the swift water. The accident apparently took place after one boat lost power  and capsized with three people aboard. A second boat, carrying four people, went to its rescue but also capsized. Six people swam to shore, but one man remains missing. The HCSO is unable to confirm his identity at this time, saying only that he is from the Klamath area. 

It is common practice for the Sheriff's Office to suspend a search after three days, confirmed Lt. Wayne Hanson, adding that the Yurok Tribal Fisheries boat runs the river every day.

"The river is unforgiving once a body goes into it," said Hanson, "Basically it would be because of the water conditions and temperature."

If confirmed, this would be the fourth drowning of 2016.

From the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office:

Subject: Boating Accident Case: 201603628

On Friday, 07-15-2016 at 10:13 p.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office was contacted regarding a boating accident involving two boats on the Klamath River near Blue Creek and AH-PAH Creek in Humboldt County. This area is located just to the south of Del Norte County.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office immediately contacted two of their off duty boating deputies, who then responded to the scene to assess the situation. When deputies arrived on scene they learned (7) seven subjects on two boats ended up falling into the Klamath River. Deputies learned that (6) of the subjects were able to self-rescue themselves from the water, were all safe, and did not need any medical attention.

The victims told the deputies that one of the boats lost power to their engine and ended up capsizing with (3) three people on board. The victims said a second boat heard them yell for help and responded to assist them. The victims said the second boat containing (4) people on board also capsized because of the swift current on the water. The victims said (6) six of the people who fell into the water were able to make it to shore on their own. One of the two boats the victims were on submerged to the bottom of the river. The second boat was recovered.

The victims said one of their friends, a 63 year old male from the Klamath area, did not make it to shore and was missing. The Sheriff’s Office contacted the United States Coast Guard for a helicopter to assist them in looking for the male victim. The Coast Guard was unable to respond do to unsafe weather conditions for flying.

On Saturday morning the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office along with the Yurok Tribal Police Department launched their boats in the river looking for the 63 year old male victim. The Sheriff’s Office and Yurok Tribal Police Department searched all day Saturday and all day Sunday and were not able to locate any signs of the possible male victim. The Sheriff’s Office is continuing to coordinate search and rescue efforts for the male victim today.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

Mike Downey

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