Missing boater’s body found, father thanks community for “outpouring of love”

Law enforcement and diver Mark Allen's boat come to shore after recovering Brandon Martin's body. He was involved in a boating accident Sunday and did not resurface when he was thrown into the water. (Aug. 10, 2017/Maecy Enger)

Law enforcement closes off the east boat launch in Columbia Park after reports of a body found in the river, believed to be the missing man from a boating accident Sunday. (Aug. 10, 2017/Maecy Enger)

Four days after a 34-year-old man was involved in a boating accident on the Columbia River near Kennewick and presumed drowned, his body was recovered.

On Thursday, Gerry Martin, Brandon’s father from Mukilteo near Everett, gave a short statement thanking the community, all the law enforcement involved and Mark Allen, a diver who helped recover his boy.

“There’s been an outpouring of love, compassion, generosity. The owner of the Red Lion gave us rooms until we found him, I mean huge generosity and we can never repay them,” says Martin.

The family came to town and stayed after learning their son was on the boat Sunday evening with his aunt and uncle and two cousins when they hit a log and it caused three people to go overboard. Brandon was the only one who did not resurface.

“Gut-wrenching, tough again, but like I said there is never going to be life-long closure, but we have our boy, that is what we stayed here for, that is why we are here, that is why we never left,” says Martin.

Search teams including the Columbia Basin Dive Rescue searched for Brandon the night he went missing and for the next two days. During that time, Mark Allen of Allen Water Rescue says the family reached out to him for extra help. Allen says he has been diving for over 30 years and has side-image sonar equipment, which he says has helped him recover bodies in the past.

Garry Martin, the father of Brandon who went missing after a boating accident, speaks with a Benton County Sheriff deputy after his son’s body is recovered. (Aug. 10, 2017/Maecy Enger)

When he was out Thursday afternoon searching near Columbia Park, the family spotted Brandon from the shore and Allen was able to secure the body until law enforcement arrived.

“They were very appreciative of it, and it is all about serving the community and finding closure for the family,” says Allen.

Allen says in most cases he doesn’t meet the family after finding a body because it can emotionally affect divers, but in this case he knew Brandon’s cousin.

The Franklin County coroner took in the body for positive identification and to determine the official cause of death. The boat accident remains under investigation with the Franklin County Sheriff’s department.

For those in the community who would like to help out Brandon’s family, they have set up a GoFundMe page under his name.