Chelan Cross Country Runner Found Dead in Canal

Stephanie Wilhelmi placed 85 at state in 2004 as a sophomore with a time of 22:40.

Chelan teen found dead in canal

By Jaime Adame World staff writer

WENATCHEE — A 17-year-old Chelan girl was found unconscious in the Highline Canal late Friday morning and later declared dead after unsuccessful efforts to revive her, Wenatchee police said.

Stephanie K. Wilhelmi was a lifelong area resident, born in Wenatchee but a student the past few years in Chelan, said her father, Jerry Wilhelmi. He declined to comment further.

Dave Martin, Wilhelmi's stepfather, said she was in Wenatchee visiting her father and relatives.

"She was kind. She didn't have a mean-spirited bone in her body," Martin said, describing her as "incredibly outgoing."

Police continue to investigate her death, with an autopsy scheduled for this weekend.

A passerby discovered Wilhelmi, her body pressed against a metal grating that spanned the width of the 20 feet wide canal, said Capt. Doug Jones. Detective Sgt. Ken Britt said water in the canal varied in depth from three to four feet.

The young woman was found just north of the 1700 block of Castlerock Avenue at about 10:49 a.m. Friday.

The canal banks are popular among joggers and walkers.

Police said she was found fully clothed, wearing capri pants

Wenatchee Police officer Jim West, left, and Capt. Doug Jones investigate the scene where the body of a 17-year-old Chelan girl was pulled from the Highline canal near Castlerock Avenue in Wenatchee. Stephanie K. Wilhelmi was found in water three to four feet deep on Friday, according to police. (World photo/Don Seabrook)
and flip-flops. Detective Sgt. Ken Britt said police believed that Wilhelmi entered the canal about four blocks away from where she was found.

At the scene, where medics worked for about 30 minutes trying to revive Wilhelmi, Wen-atchee Fire Department Battalion Chief Glen Widener said there were no apparent signs of trauma or any other obvious medical condition.

Rescuers took the young woman to Central Washington hospital, but Chelan County Coroner Wayne Harris said she was dead when pulled from the canal.

Wilhelmi was a cheerleader at Chelan High School, and first runner-up in the 2006-07 Chelan Junior Miss competition. She was also interested in art, Martin said, and was an athlete, playing softball and running cross country.

"She had a lot of friends, had tons of friends. The whole school knows her," Martin said, adding that he thought classmates of Wilhelmi were going to meet at the school today. Classes have yet to start at Chelan High School.

Martin said Wilhelmi was a good swimmer.

"We don't know what happened ... " he said.

"She was a perfectly healthy, happy kid."