Toddler found dead, dad missing after Washington canoe ride


by KGW & KING 5 News

Posted on March 19, 2012 at 12:29 PM

MASON COUNTY, Wash. - A young boy was found dead in a lake in Washington state Saturday night and a search for his father was under way Monday.

Sheldon Olsen had recently moved to Mason County from Forest Grove, Ore. with his wife, Julie and son, Jace.  They were celebrating Julie's birthday on the day Sheldon and Jace went missing during a canoe trip in the lake.

The Mason County Coroner says the body of 2 ½-year-old Jace was found floating on Lake Limerick at about 9:20 p.m., Saturday. He was not wearing a life jacket.

Sheldon, 31, has been missing since the two were last seen in a canoe on the lake.

Julie told officials that Jace and his father had gone for a canoe ride at about 5 p.m. and that she had become concerned when they did not return, according to Mason County Coroner Wes Stockwell.

The Olsen family had been celebrating Julie's birthday with guests at their home when Sheldon decided to take his son for a canoe ride.

Witnesses said they saw two people in a canoe on the lake and later saw the unoccupied canoe, with life jackets still inside.

Deputy Chief Dean Byrd with the Mason County Sheriff's Office said foul play was not suspected.

"According to our investigation guests were at the house, it was Mr. Olsen's wife's birthday and it just appears to be a good day that turned into tragedy," Byrd said.

The Olsens' former neighbors in Forest Grove were shaken to hear the terrible news.

"They were a nice wholesome family," a family friend and neighbor told KGW. "This tragic loss of both the husband and two-year-old child is very sad."

People from the family's church are now staying with Julie, trying to help her deal with the tragedy.