NORTH BEND — The Coos County Sheriff’s Office reported Wednesday that the 19-year-old Coos Bay man whose body was pulled from the bay near the McCullough Bridge was a suspect involved in an assault case earlier this month.

According to a press release by the Coos County Sheriff’s Office, on April 12 at about 1:48 a.m. deputies responded to a report of assault on Hummingbird Lane in North Bend.

The victim told officers that she offered to house Damien Austin for the night, but as she turned away he grabbed her from behind and placed her in a choke hold.

“The victim showed signs of an altercation, exhibiting abrasions to her neck and arms, as well as some small evidence of bleeding,” said the press release.

Prior to their arrival, deputies learned Austin had left the residence with a dog. With assistance from the North Bend Police Department, authorities began searching the area for Austin.

After spotting a dog underneath the McCullough Bridge, a Coos County Marine Deputy, the U.S. Coast Guard and the North Bend Fire Department were called out to search the bay. The dog was rescued and transported to the Coos County Animal Shelter, according to the report.

“Despite continuing the search into daylight hours, officers were unable to find the suspect,” said the press release.

On April 16, members from a maintenance crew working on the bridge reported seeing a man face down in the water.

A rescue swimmer from the U.S. Coast Guard Section North Bend and firefighters from the North Bend Fire Department worked together to recover Austin’s body from a mudflat area north of the bridge where he was pronounced dead.  

The Coos County Medical Examiner’s Office has not yet released the cause of death.

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Reporter Amanda Linares can be reached at 541-266-2039 or by email at amanda.linares@theworldlink.com.