Family warns about Lake Cle Elum, safety after 8-year-old girl drowns

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LAKE CLE ELUM, Wash. — Divers recovered the body of an 8-year old girl in Lake Cle Elum early Tuesday morning. She drowned while at camp with dozens of other children.

While investigators believe it was the result of a tragic accident, the child’s family believes this tragedy could have been prevented.

While Lake Cle Elum looks serene in the glistening sun, one grieving family says there’s more to the lake than meets the eye.

“The currents are very strong, the water is unpredictable, you could be in two feet of water at one point and then 12 feet the next,” said Miranda Bethay, who knows the lake’s dangers firsthand.

She had been searching the water for her missing 8-year-old niece Christine Bethay.

The girl disappeared Monday at about 5 p.m. while playing in the cove with other children at a summer camp. She arrived with her grandmother, who was volunteering at the camp.

“We all knew that there was a strong likelihood that Christine had drowned and that it was more of a recovery versus a rescue as far as them going out looking for her,” said Bethay.

Divers recovered the girl’s body Tuesday morning, 20 feet from the shore in about 6 feet of water, according to the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators said this appears to be the result of a tragic accident.

"The loss of a child touches the deepest emotions in us all and these emotions often manifest with guilt, anger or depression,” said Kittitas Undersheriff Clayton Meyers in a released statement. “We can focus on blame, believing that, if we can hold someone accountable it will somehow make sense and lessen the pain. It seldom does.

"Even with the most vigilant supervision, someone can slip into deeper water and, without a sound or splash, they are gone. This is a tragedy, the kind that will impact family and friends for the rest of their time and our prayers are with them."

Bethay disagrees that this was an accident. She believes this was a tragedy that didn’t have to happen.

“Christine did not know how to swim,” said Bethay. “What I think happened were some poor judgments were made. That campground was not suitable for children. If they had bothered to put a life jacket on Christine, there’s a good chance she would still be here.”

It’s why she’s sharing her story.

“It’s a pain I can’t describe, I can’t put into words,” said Bethay.

She said she hopes her message can save another family from experiencing their same pain.

“I want people to know things like this can be prevented and not brush it off as another tragic accident that happens during the summer time,” said Bethay. “It’s our responsibility to safeguard our kids,  whether who we choose or who we entrust to take care of them.”

The founder of the camp tells Q13 FOX News that he is devastated by what happened. He said in his 25 years of working with kids, the organization has never had so much as a broken bone on one of their trips.

The family has set up a GoFundMe in honor of Christine at:

http://www.gofundme.com/9h2ah6pu6g