Missing Centralia 18-year-old presumed drowned

The Lewis County Sheriff's Office said an 18-year-old who went into the Chehalis River Wednesday and did not resurface is presumed drowned.

According to the sheriff's office, 18-year-old Zachary Rager was walking with three friends on a trestle over the Chehalis River, west of Chehalis on SR-6 and SR-603. 

Rager jumped into the river, as he had several times before. His friends saw him pop up and start to swim toward shore, but then he began to struggle.

One friend jumped in after him and was able to reach him. However, the friend said Rager went limp in the cold and the friend struggled to hold the two of them up. 

The friend made it back to shore but Rager did not.

Thurston County dive teams were searching the river on Wednesday and Thursday. The search was suspended on Thursday evening.

The Lewis County Sheriff's Office said it is now a recovery mission and he is presumed drowned.

Lewis County Sheriff's Office Deputy Dusty Breen told The Chronicle that the spot at the bridge is a popular recreation site during warm weather months. 

Breen told The Chronicle that it’s not uncommon for people to want to return to the water as soon as the weather starts warming up, but it's important to remember that the water is still frigid this time of year, despite air temperatures.

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