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Authorities say alcohol 'a factor' in Blakely Island drowning | Updated
A Bellingham man who intended to compete in Saturday’s countywide sailing competition drowned after he went missing at a Blakely Island marina in the predawn hours on the day of the race, according to local authorities.
The body of Donald Mierzeski, 42, was discovered by divers under several feet of water, not far from the location where his 35-foot sailboat was moored. Mierzeski and his eight teammates had docked at the marina in anticipation of the annual “Round the County” sailboat race.
He was last seen walking the marina docks shortly after midnight, on Friday, and not long after deputies arrived at the marina in response to an altercation, according to San Juan County Undersheriff Jon Zerby.
Zerby said the altercation involved Mierzeski and other members of the racing team, and that it reportedly occurred sometime around midnight. He said alcohol is believed to be a factor in the Mierzeski’s death. An autopsy will be done by the Snohomish County Medical Examiner, he said.
“At this point it looks as if he just fell off the dock and drowned,” Zerby said.
After arriving at the marina because of the altercation, Zerby said deputies searched the area for Mierzeski without success. His body was later found by members of the Sheriff’s dive team at about 3:30 p.m., Saturday.
Mierzeski was as an executive with a Bellingham-based hospital and he and his wife live in that area, Zerby said. He said authorities are still investigating both the altercation and Mierzeski’s death, and that his fellow racers are still being questioned about that evening’s events.