Medical examiner: Boy found on beach drowned

SEATTLE — A day after a boy’s body was found on an island beach in Puget Sound, authorities pressed forward with their search for his mother.

Thurston County sheriff’s Lt. Chris Mealy said Friday that deputies in a boat were looking for Shantina “Kat” Smiley, 29, of Silverdale. She and her 8-year-old son, Azriel Carver, were last seen Saturday night, and her partially submerged minivan was found Sunday on a remote south Puget Sound beach.

Azriel’s body was discovered by a walker Thursday on Fox Island, southwest of Tacoma and about 18 miles north by water from where the van was found.

An autopsy Friday by Dr. Sigmund Menchel, Pierce County’s acting chief medical examiner, positively identified the boy, determined he had drowned and his death was an accident.

Searchers on the island about 25 miles southwest of Seattle found no sign of Smiley on Thursday. Divers on a boat searched as well and a Coast Guard helicopter and sheriff’s plane flew overhead.

Thurston County authorities led the search since the van was found in their jurisdiction, but Pierce County took the lead once the boy’s body was found within that county. Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said an aerial search for Smiley would be made during Friday afternoon’s low tide.

A wallet containing Smiley’s driver’s license, some cash and credit cards was found in the van. Two mismatched shoes, a partially full and corked wine bottle, an inhaler and an orange ball have washed ashore since, and Mealy said the items apparently belonged to the boy or his mother.

There was no indication that a crime took place inside Smiley’s 2005 Dodge Caravan, Mealy said.

Smiley was heading from her home in Silverdale to her stepfather’s house in southwest Washington when she and her son vanished. Silverdale is about 16 miles west of Seattle, across Puget Sound.

Besides searching the area, investigators have looked at phone records and talked to people who know Smiley or her son or may have seen them Saturday night. Her fiance, Robb Simmons, told authorities she was a recovering alcoholic who had relapsed last week.

Jay Carver, Azriel’s father who flew here from Buffalo, N.Y., this week, went to the beach where the boy was found. Troyer said the father was not involved in identifying the body.

“You really don’t know what you have in your life until they’re gone,” Carver told Seattle’s KING-TV late Thursday.

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