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Drowning deemed accidental: Coast Guard releases few details about Missoula recruit's death

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A Missoula man who died within three days of arriving at a Coast Guard training facility in New Jersey is believed to have drowned accidentally.

Leigh Cody Timmerhoff, 20, was found dead in the waters of Cape May Harbor about 8 p.m. Friday night, Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Bill Carson said Wednesday.

Timmerhoff, a 2004 graduate of Sentinel High School, was found by a search party and given CPR, then rushed to a hospital in nearby Cape May Court House, where he pronounced dead on arrival.

Timmerhoff had arrived at the training facility on Tuesday, Oct. 4.

&#8221We want to express our deep sorrow to the Timmerhoff family," Carson said. &#8221It's pretty sad around here."

Honoring &#8221family wishes," Carson released almost no information about how Timmerhoff could have gone missing and wound up in the harbor, which borders the Cape May Training Facility. Carson said the &#8221investigation has been completed to the satisfaction of the family."

The Coast Guard did the investigation, although the autopsy was performed by a medical examiner from the state. No additional autopsy results were available Wednesday.

Timmerhoff's death shocked the base, which had not had a death in 25 years. Carson said counseling is being provided to recruits, and a chaplain was counseling the search party that found Timmerhoff's body.

In general, seaman recruits are nearly constantly supervised from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day during their first week at the facility, the Coast Guard's only such center in the country. Carson said no physical training takes place during the recruits' first week.

&#8221The first week really is processing, medical and dental exams, haircuts, that sort of thing," Carson said. &#8221There are a lot of classes, but training doesn't really start until that next week."

Recruits spend eight weeks in basic training at Cape May, then ship out for assignments at Coast Guard stations around the country.

Timmerhoff's family has asked that they not be contacted until the end of the week, but a friend of Timmerhoff's described him as a &#8221good kid" who loved video and computer games.

&#8221He was really into paintball and hanging out with friends," said Kellen McMannis, who knew Timmerhoff since the sixth grade at C. S. Porter School.

Timmerhoff had a great sense of humor and constantly cracked his friends up, McMannis said.

&#8221He was just a great kid, a great friend," he said.

Reporter Michael Moore can be reached at 523-5252 or at mmoore@missoulian.com.

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