GEARHART - Authorities have confirmed that a body that washed up on Gearhart's Little Beach early Friday morning is that of missing swimmer Tony Gwerder, 34, of Raymond, Wash.
Gearhart Police Chief Jeff Bowman and Sgt. Richard Ekman of the Pacific County Sheriff's Office made the confirmation this morning after using a photograph of a tattoo to confirm the body's identification.
The body was first seen by a Seaside man looking across the Necanicum River estuary to Little Beach with binoculars. He saw what appeared to be a body face down in the sand and called police dispatch. Bowman believes that the body had washed up on the beach sometime between midnight and 2 a.m. Friday.
Bowman described the body as that of a bald, white male, approximately 25-45 years old, between 5 feet, 10 inches and 6 feet tall and weighing more than 200 pounds. The body's chest and arms were almost completely covered with tattoos, Bowman said.
Bowman was assisted by Seaside Police and Gearhart Fire Department, who transported the body by four-by-four vehicle to the 10th Street beach ramp, where a Medix ambulance was waiting. Medix transported the body to Caldwell's Luce-Layton Mortuary in Astoria, where it was placed under the supervision of Clatsop County Medical Examiner JoAnn Stefanelli.
Gwerder had been missing since May 23 when he disappeared while swimming off a boat in the Columbia River hear Hungry Harbor. He was on a sturgeon fishing trip in the lower Columbia River and was not wearing a life jacket. Coast Guard searched the area without any success.
The body has been released and transported to the Pacific County Sheriff's Office in South Bend, Wash.