Presumed bodies of missing boaters located near Mercer Island Monday

Medical examiner list cause of death as accident.

Mercer Island Police believe they have located the bodies of James Le and Vanna Nguyen, within a quarter mile of Le’s boat which police found drifting abandoned.

At about 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 30, the Mercer Island Police Marine Patrol recovered the two bodies from Lake Washington in the 7800 block of West Mercer Way. They were transported to the boat dock and the medical examiner (ME) was given full custody. The ME confirmed on Tuesday that both parties died of asphyxia due to drowning and their manner of death was listed as an accident.

The bodies were one mile from the Mercer Island shore and about 110 feet underwater — the equivalent of an 11-story building, said commander Jeff Magnan with the Mercer Island Police Department.

Le and Nguyen have been missing since the pair went for a bike ride, followed by an evening boat trip on Sept. 2. Police responded to noise complaints and found Le’s boat in the 7700 block of West Mercer Way. It was empty but Le’s and Nguyen’s cell phones remained onboard.

What followed was a U.S. Coast Guard, Seattle police and King County aided search. Others did personal searches in kayaks and boats. Friends and family held a vigil for the missing friends on Sept. 7 at Renton’s Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park.

For the last two weeks straight, a remote operated vehicle (ROV) described as an underwater drone has searched the large lake. Without a last seen point and no clear idea on where the pair entered the water, police have been seeking out potential targets using a side scan sonar.

Yesterday officers were searching a new area of water when they located the bodies, Magnan said. The latest ROV device, provided by Strategic Robotic Systems, is equipped with a grappling arm. It was used to pull the bodies from the water before they were turned over.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families,” Magnan said. “The toughest part of our investigation continues as we wait for the results of the autopsy … it can take some time before we’re able to close out the case.”


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Virtual town halls coming up for unincorporated King County

Events throughout September and October via Zoom will cater to different areas of the region.

A vacant building that went up in flames Aug. 27 at the corner of Pacific Highway S. and S. 279th St. in Federal Way. Fire investigators declared the blaze to be an arson. Photo courtesy of South King Fire Commissioner Bill Fuller
Renton man possibly connected to Federal Way arsons

Officers found several lighters and butane fuel in his possession while arresting the man on Aug. 28.

Stock photo
Renton woman pleads guilty to purchasing firearms for ‘violent street gangs’

According to case records, a 41-year-old Renton woman provided the guns to her son, who modified them and sold them to gang members

Seven decades later, the search for two missing Navy pilots continues

The pilots are thought to have disappeared near Black Lake, northeast of North Bend.

A view of the Palmer Fire, located seven miles southwest of Oroville in north central Washington. Source: InciWeb
Antifa isn’t starting Washington wildfires

Online conspiracy theories are spreading as the West Coast burns.

Courtesy King County Metro.
Metro bus route changes in Renton coming Sept. 19

As part of a plan to increase mobility between several South King County cities, Metro has added a new route and increased the frequency of other routes.

The truck of the Renton family as it was found Tuesday. While fleeing the Cold Springs Fire two adults were severely burned and one toddler died. Courtesy photo/Okanogan Sheriff’s Office
Toddler killed as Renton family flees Cold Springs Fire

The parents were severely burned and are being treated at Harborview Medical Center

A plane drops fire retardant on the Palmer Mountain Fire last week. The fire is listed as 84 percent contained, and fully lined. Laura Knowlton/Sound Publishing staff photo
Threat multiplier: How climate change, coronavirus and weather are scorching WA

Dry summer conspired with the pandemic and a wind storm.

Screenshot from the state Employment Security Department’s website at esd.wa.gov.
Workers may qualify for an extra $1,500 in unemployment back pay

A federal program will give some of the state’s unemployed a $300 weekly bump for the past five weeks.

I-5 closures near Federal Way this week for Sound Transit construction

Two lanes of I-5 will be closed overnight Sept. 9 and 10.

Screenshot of the air quality monitor at 11 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 8. Courtesy Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.
King County faces unhealthy air quality due to wildfire smoke

Weather monitors recommend people limit time outdoors, especially children, seniors and those with heart or lung disease.