Port Angeles Man Succumbs After Lake Mills Canoe Accident

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Date: May 30, 2007
Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005

Douglas “Oly” R. Olson, 48 years old, died yesterday afternoon after his canoe capsized, sending him into the water along with his companion, Elizabeth Meyers, 42, of Olympia.

The accident was reported to park rangers at about 1:30 p.m. yesterday, after a Port Angeles couple who was fishing in the area observed an overturned canoe near the south end of the Lake Mills reservoir, in the Elwha Valley of Olympic National Park.  Rangers responded to the area and found Meyers onshore and Olson unresponsive in the water.

Accident investigators credit Olson with saving Meyers’ life, by helping her into the swamped canoe after it capsized.  Olson then declined to re-enter the canoe himself, fearing that it would sink under his additional weight.

“This terrible accident underscores the risks associated with canoeing and water recreation,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Bill Laitner.  “Afternoon winds can quickly transform a peaceful outing into a harrowing or even tragic experience, and cold water is a constant hazard for water enthusiasts.”

Although winds often remain relatively – and deceptively – calm at the north end of Lake Mills near the boat launch, winds frequently come up in the afternoons on the lake’s south end.  Yesterday, winds of up to 25 miles per hour were blowing at the south end of the lake, creating one-and-a-half to tw0-foot waves.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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