Story Summary

Water rescues and drownings

Every year, especially when the temperatures rise, people in Western Washington take to the area rivers and lakes. But with rivers running swift and cold from mountain snowmelt, people can be dragged under water or get into other trouble. Water rescues and drowings become more common in the spring and summer months.

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Local News

Swimming safety urged after 2 boys drown

KENT – Summer isn’t even a week old and we’ve already lost two more children to drowning.

jumpersAn 8-year-old boy lost his life in Lake Roesiger on Sunday during a family picnic, and another 8-year-old boy drowned on the White River in Pierce County after he fell off a log Saturday.

Experts say the best protection is close supervision — watching kids the entire time they’re in the water.

“It looks like a perfectly safe, typical family weekend out and it ends in tragedy,” said Kent Fire and Rescue Capt. Kyle Ohashi. “It’s a rude and quick start, but, unfortunately, it’s not unusual. Every year we start spring and summer with near drowning and, unfortunately, drowning because people are very eager after a cold and wet winter to get outside.”

Kids at Meridian Lake in Kent dove right into the water Monday, making the best of a cloudy summer afternoon. Ohashi said parks like this one, with lifeguards and roped-off swimming areas, are the safest way to go.

“Make sure you know the body of water; make sure you wear a lifejacket at all times,” said Ohashi. “That lifejacket, you have to make sure it fits properly and that it’s a Coast Guard-approved lifejacket.”

Officials also suggest calling local parks departments to get children swimming lessons now that summer is here.

SNOHOMISH — An 8-year-old boy pulled from Lake Roesiger after for more than an hour underwater was pronounced dead Monday.

The Auburn, Wash., boy was attending a family gathering Sunday afternoon. Officials said the boy was swimming in the lake and tried to climb onto a raft but began to struggle and disappeared underwater. Friends tried to dive down to find him, and family members called 911.

Divers found the boy’s body nearly 27-feet down. Paramedics performed CPR on the boy and he was taken to a local hospital.

Identification and cause of death are pending from the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office.


(Portions of the video above were taken by Bill Gillam)

LAKE STEVENS — Witnesses say it was a picture perfect day on Lake Roesiger.


Lake Roesiger

A group of friends and family were swimming to and from a floating platform, when at about 2:20 p.m. something wrong.

“The kids have been doing this all the time.  They’ve done it before; just this time when he went to try to climb on, he seemed to be having a rough time according to the witnesses and slipped.  They didn’t see him come back up,” Snohomish County sheriff’s Lt. Rodney Rochon said.

When the boy failed to surface, friends jumped in to search for him. Others called 911.

“The first people on the scene were trying to do a surface search to locate the young man with no results but we did have a good position to look at,” Rochon said.

Divers went in and eventually found the boy at the bottom of the lake nearly an hour after he went under. He was taken to the hospital, and the sheriff’s office said his condition was not known.

“The first two divers that were on scene were deployed and they were able to recover an 8-year-old juvenile male in roughly 27 feet of water with a water temperature of 58 degrees,” Rochon said.

The dive team stressed that any time kids are in the water, there should be an adult whose only responsibility is to keep an eye on everyone. Better yet, they say, the best advice is to always have kids wear a life vest anytime they are close to or in the water.

whiteriverASHFORD — A 7-year-old boy drowned Saturday night at the White River Campground in Ashford, authorities said Sunday.

Mount Rainier National Park rangers pulled the boy from the river and started CPR, he said, but he did not survive.

The details surrounding the child’s drowning were not immediately released.


Lake Roesiger

SNOHOMISH — An 8-year-old boy was pulled from Lake Roesiger and rushed to the hospital Sunday after he had been under water for nearly an hour, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said.

His condition was not immediately known, the sheriff’s office said.

The sheriff’s office said it received 911 calls reporting that a boy had failed to surface after swimming to a floating platform in the lake at about 2:20 p.m. The calls came from a residence in the 2300 block of S. Lake Roesiger Road.

The boy was found by divers under water at about 3:20 p.m., the office said.

Local News

Boy dies after fall into apartment pool


File photo

LACEY, Wash. — A 4-year-old boy who fell into an apartment pool over the weekend died Sunday night at Mary Bridge Hospital in Tacoma, The Olympian reported.

According to Lacey police, officers received a report of a child drowning around 3:55 p.m. Saturday at the Diamond Head Apartments in the 1500 block of College Street S.E. When officers arrived, they found the boy’s father administering CPR.

Preliminary reports show the father fell asleep while watching the boy, and he wandered out of the apartment by himself. Upon waking, the man searched the apartment grounds and found the boy submerged in the pool. The man immediately grabbed the boy, called out to neighbors and performed CPR.

The boy was airlifted to Mary Bridge Hospital in Tacoma, and was listed in critical condition until Sunday. The Pierce County Medical Examiner is handling the autopsy, The Olympian reported.

Local News

Student found at bottom of pool dies


File photo

EVERETT– The 21-year-old student found unconscious at the bottom a high school pool May 31 was taken off life support Sunday.

Fedrick Nifasha, a student at Lake Stevens High School, drowned during a Lake Stevens School District special education program field trip.

An attorney representing the family said Nifasha shouldn’t have been allowed in the pool because he was a special needs student who couldn’t swim. And since his family had recently immigrated from Tanzania, he also had a limited knowledge of English, further increasing his dependency on his caretakers, the attorney said.

The attorney said it appeared Nifasha was underwater for a “considerable amount of time.”

The school district is investigating the incident.


Whatcom Falls Park

BELLINGHAM — A 16-year-old boy died Monday night after he jumped into the water at Whatcom Falls Park and was swept downstream, authorities said Tuesday.

Bellingham police identified the boy as Daniel Santiago Guerrero and said they are continuing an investigation into his death.

Bellingham police and fire departments responded to Whatcom Falls Park at 8:46 p.m. Monday, in response to a report of a teenage boy who witnesses say jumped into the water and was swept downstream, the Bellingham Police Department said.

When the boy was found and pulled from the water, paramedics immediately began life-saving measures and took the boy to PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, but he did not survive.

According to witness accounts, police said, Guerrero had been in the park with six friends. Some of the friends had jumped into Whatcom Creek and were in the water when Daniel jumped in and disappeared, at which time his friends called 911.

Police are conducting an investigation and a cause of death has not been determined. The Whatcom County medical examiner has informed Bellingham Police that he likely will complete an autopsy on Wednesday to determine the manner and cause of death.

Authorities say simply wearing a life jacket isn’t enough after a man plunges into an area lake, slips out of a preserver and drowns.

spanaway drowningA picturesque day on Spanaway Lake is interrupted by Pierce County Search and Rescue teams searching for a missing man. The sheriff’s office says three people were being pulled on a floating tube by a boat when that tube flipped over. Two people surfaced but a 55 year-old man did not despite wearing a life jacket.

Sergeant Paul Schneider from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said, “He was wearing a vest. I don’t have the vest in front of me but obviously didn’t fit correctly and it slipped over his head.”

Within minutes, dive crews began their search but cloudy conditions at the bottom prevented them from finding the man.

“Protocol is they search with the possibility of survival for an hour,” Sergeant Schneider said.  “We’re approaching that now. Then we’ll move into recovery mode for the rest of the afternoon.”

Along the shore, residents listened to scanner traffic and used binoculars to keep track of the rescue effort.

Jeff Mundell witnessed most of the action. “We’re just sitting up here soaking up the sun and this happened and we’re like, something’s not right,” he said.

Mundell said the response was swift. The first crew arrived in less than 10 minutes.

“The next thing we saw, a boat came in and they had divers get in the boat,” Mundell said.

The news was especially sobering for longtime resident Sandy Williamson. He’s in the boat business and preaches the importance of water safety.

Williamson said, “In the eight years we’ve lived here we’re had I believe three drownings on our lake. And, we don’t want to have any more.”

The sheriff’s office says this tragedy could have been avoided.

“Life jacket is important but we need it to properly fit for the body style, weight and age of the person wearing it,” Segeant Schneider warned.