Man drowns in same river brother drowned 5 years ago

Man drowns in same river brother drowned 5 years ago

POSTED: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - 12:00am

UPDATED: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - 12:04am

A 43-year-old man drowned Saturday in the Cowlitz River, just two days before the five-year anniversary of his brother drowning in the same river.

Michael Bell jumped off a rock and into the chilly waters Saturday morning but began yelling for help moments later, according to witnesses. Bell attempted to swim to shore when he disappeared under the surface of the water.

The incident was eerily similar to the way his older brother, Rodney Bell, died in 2007. In fact, three of the six Bell siblings have died along the same stretch of the Cowlitz in Castle Rock. In 1997, their sister was hit by a car on a road near the river.

"In a way it surprises me and in a way it doesn't," said Ron Bell, the oldest brother. "I've known at least eight or 10 people who've drowned out here in the last 30 years."

The Cowlitz runs swift and cold through Castle Rock. Ron Bell believes his baby brother, Michael Bell, probably became caught in some debris or tree roots under the water. Divers found his body approximately one mile downstream from where he was last seen.

"He's a pretty good swimmer," Ron Bell said. "Both of them were."

"It doesn't matter how good you are - the water is still stronger. It's going to take you if it wants you."

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