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UPDATE: Mercer Island Man Killed in Wakeboarding Accident

South-end resident Nathan Bahner was killed last Friday following a wakeboarding accident on Lake Washington. The operator of the boat towing him was later arrested for suspicion of BUI.

UPDATE: Mercer Island Man Killed in Wakeboarding Accident

Update, Tuesday, 4 p.m.: The Seattle Police Department contacted Mercer Island Patch this afternoon to request a clarification of remarks made in two on-record interviews regarding the arrest of the operator of a boat involved in the death of local resident Nathan Bahner.

Seattle Police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said defense attorney Robert Flennaugh — hired to represent the family of the arrested boat operator — contacted him today requesting the clarification.

Whitcomb said that police generally arrest a person based on probable cause when considering whether or not a crime was committed. He said that police officers in a hypothetical DUI situation can determine that they think the suspect is intoxicated, but that allegation can be contested in a court of law.

"We believe the operator of the boat was impaired and we did arrest him for BUI. That's based upon our investigation and response. We actually had a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) respond to that call."


Original Story: Nathan Bahner, 33, was killed in a wakeboarding accident on Lake Washington this weekend, according to the Seattle Police Department.

The Mercer Island man was wakeboarding on Lake Washington near Seattle's Seward Park around 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 10 and was being towed toward Mercer Island when the accident occurred, officials said.

Seattle Police Detective Mark Jamieson said the boat towing Bahner pulled his body aboard the boat and docked at a residential moorage on the 7400 block of West Mercer Way at 6:07 p.m. and called 911. EMTs were first to respond within 8 minutes to provided medical aid and CPR on the dock. Medic One paramedics later pronounced him dead at the scene.

Because the accident occurred in waters closest to Seattle, a Seattle Police Department traffic collision squad was dispatched to Mercer Island to investigate the accident. Seattle Police officers said they believe the operator of the boat was intoxicated and arrested him on suspicion of boating under the influence. As of 2 p.m. Monday, no charges have been filed in the case.

"This is still an active and ongoing investigation," Jamieson said.

The King County Medical Examiner's Office said on Monday that the cause of death is also still pending investigation.

Wakeboarding is similar to water skiing in that the rider is towed behind a boat and rides on the surface of the water, but uses a single, buoyant board made of lightweight materials, and the rider uses bindings to hold the rider's feet in place.

(Ed. Note: This story has been updated. Seattle Police requested a clarification of comments — based on two on-record interviews — that were made in an earlier version of this story about why police arrested the boat operator for BUI.)

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