Spanaway youth drowns Friday north of Long Beach

A fun weekend getaway from the Tacoma area turned into a tragedy Friday when an 18-year-old was overwhelmed by waves north of Long Beach. Above, his friends talk with a deputy sheriff and look for any sign of their buddy. The search for the drowning victim was carried out by wave runners from the Search and Rescue Team, by USCG motor lifeboats and helicopters, and by Long Beach fire and police and State Parks and Fish and Wildlife officers. Clifford Yarborough's body was discovered early Saturday morning at the Bolstad beach approach by his mourning friends. Beautiful summer weather has brought many people to the seashore and an appalling number of them are getting into dangerous situations in the water. Doug Knutzen of the South Pacific County Technical Rescue Team said Tuesday that his crew was summoned more than 80 times in July, exhausting the team of dedicated volunteers.<I><BR>KEVIN HEIMBIGNER photo</I>

LONG BEACH - Friday afternoon Clifford Yarborough IV, an 18-year-old star basketball player from Spanaway High School, was boogie boarding in shoulder-depth water near the Lands End RV Park about 1-1/2 miles north of Long Beach off of State Route 103 at about 4 p.m.

He and three friends decided to swim back to the beach when the waves grew higher. Yarborough was having trouble and they tried to help him. They were all having trouble swimming into the beach and finally had to leave Yarborough to save themselves and call for help.

Yarborough was presumed drowned after an extensive search effort the remainder of Friday afternoon. At 5:48 a.m. Saturday morning a call came in that some of the many friends who accompanied him to the beach for a weekend of swimming and recreation found his body off Bolstad beach approach.

His father told Northwest Cable News, "Clifford loved the water. He was looking forward to a weekend to relax before going back to school and sports." His mother said, "Please pray for our family."

After the call for help came into Pacific County dispatch at 4:35 p.m., Friday afternoon, units from Long Beach Fire and Fire District No. 1 were on scene, as was Long Beach Police, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Washington State Parks. In the air a HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Astoria Coast Guard Station and a 47-foot motor lifeboat from Cape Disappointment were also dispatched. The South Pacific County Technical Rescue Team jet ski's helped with the rescue, turned recovery effort. At midnight USCG helicopters worked a grid search off the Long Beach Peninsula to no avail.

At the time of the drowning the water was relatively warm for the northwest coast, the tide was dropping only three feet during the five-hour ebb, the waves were no more than two feet if and when they were breaking, and the air temperature was near 70 degrees, a perfect summer afternoon.

The weather may have been too good - as one of Clifford's friends said, "He just went out too far."

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