Chehalis woman found in Skookumchuck River died of hypothermia

The Chronicle (Centralia)October 13, 2013 

The Chehalis woman whose body was found in July in the Skookumchuck River in Centralia died from hypothermia with a contributing factor of methamphetamine intoxication, the Lewis County coroner said Friday.

Tina Thode, 40, was found July 29 by two teens on inner tubes floating the river in Centralia.

The medical examiner concluded Thode’s death was due to hypothermia and that her methamphetamine use earlier that day made her unable to find shelter from the cold or get out of the water, said Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod. Her death was ruled accidental.

Even though the evening when Thode apparently died was rather warm, her methamphetamine use, as well as being in the river water, likely affected her body temperature, McLeod said.

Thode was found in about a foot and a half of water, and her face was submerged about two inches under the surface of the river.

At the time of her death, Thode was enrolled in Lewis County Drug Court. Two days before she was found in the river, she had checked herself out of an in-patient drug treatment facility.

The next day, she went to the Skookumchuck River with the intent of using methamphetamine, according to investigators.

After apparently using drugs, Thode was unable to find her way back to the road. She called 911 that night, July 27, and police and firefighters searched along the river where Thode said she was for almost three hours.

Thode told the dispatcher she was not injured or hurt, and that she could walk. For unknown reasons, she did not stand up and walk away from the river. She was about 150 feet from the nearest road.

She also told the dispatcher she was getting cold and that she had her feet in the river, according to the radio traffic. The dispatcher advised Thode to get out of the water.

For almost 30 minutes, Thode tried to describe her location to the dispatcher, who relayed the information to the police officers who searched for her.

Even though Thode correctly told dispatchers the closest intersection, which was Reynolds Avenue and North Tower Avenue, she later gave the 911 operator conflicting locations, which confused the officers and spread out the search.

After the call was disconnected, dispatchers tried to call Thode back, but her phone did not accept incoming calls. Thode was not heard from again after that.

Even after the call ended, police continued to search. After about three hours, the search was called off after police determined they had “exhausted all resources available,” according to the report.

Two days later, Thode’s body was found.

Thode was eventually found about 100 yards from Reynolds Avenue, on the opposite side of the river. The river was shallow, and the land around the river was grassy and in places overgrown with bushes.

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