Ukiah fisherman drowns in Lake Mendocino

Two people have drowned in Mendocino County in recent days, including a Ukiah man who’d been fishing with two young boys believed to be his children, according to authorities.

David McGowan, 44, was with the boys on Lake Mendocino Sunday about noon in a 14-foot aluminum boat near the south boat ramp.

The boys had on life vests, but the man didn’t and apparently lost his balance while sitting in a folding chair and fell overboard, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Lt. Shannon Barney said Monday.

Witnesses told deputies that McGowan struggled in the water and went under. It wasn’t clear whether he could swim, but he may have become tangled in fishing line, Barney said.

Nearby boaters saw the commotion and called for help. Ukiah Valley firefighters and deputies responded.

Jeff Adair, Ukiah’s acting fire chief, said the boys, 4, and 6, were on the shoreline being tended by two women when firefighters arrived. Barney said the women appeared to be strangers who came over to comfort the children. Initial reports indicated the older boy may have jumped in to try and help.

Searchers were unable to see below the surface and divers from three fire agencies from throughout the county responded. A private boat with high-tech sonar equipment helped locate the body, between 13 and 20 feet down, Barney said.

The body was recovered about 4:30 p.m. County protective services workers took the boys into their care. Barney said the drowning highlights the need for everyone in a boat to wear a proper life vest.

On Thursday, a Fort Bragg woman was found dead in Noyo Harbor.

Alexandra Russell, 46, had been reported missing by her boyfriend about 8 a.m. Thursday. Authorities took a missing person’s report and the man and a friend looked for the woman, reporting just before 3 p.m. that they’d found her in the harbor, Barney said.

Russell may have had a medical issue, Barney said.

Autopsies in both instances are pending.

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