Three children were dropped off at Davies Beach on Lake Stevens to swim and play Sunday, but the day ended in tragedy with one dead and two in critical condition.
A 13-year-old boy died and the two others, a 12-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl, were in Seattle hospitals in critical condition Monday, according to Peter Mongillo, spokesperson for Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue.
“What happened is not clear,” he said “All three went down and nobody was watching, so we don’t know.”
The popular beach area where the children were swimming is part of a recreational area of the former Wyatt County Park that was recently transferred from county parks to Lake Stevens Parks and Recreation.
It is an unguarded beach with signs warning people they will be swimming at their own risk. There are also boxes of free life jackets for people to use, Mongillo said.
On Sunday, the swimming area was packed with more than 100 people, he said. Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue received a 911 call for a water rescue at 5:43 p.m. Lake Stevens police helped clear a path for medical responders to reach the children, Mongillo said.
Two of the children had already been pulled from the water by bystanders, he said.
Emergency personnel began performing CPR on those two and preparing them for transport to the hospital while rescue divers went into the water for the third teen, he said.
Divers found the 13-year-old in 10 feet of water, pulled him to shore and began performing CPR, Mongillo said.
All three teens were taken to Providence Medical Center, where the 13-year-old was pronounced dead. The other two were transferred to Seattle hospitals, he said.
None of the children had been wearing life jackets, he said.
“We never pull dead bodies with life jackets on from 10 feet of water,” he said.
Lake Stevens police are investigating the circumstances of the drowning. Police did not immediately return a phone call on Monday. Washington state has no laws on what age a child can be left unsupervised, though guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests children under the age of 10 should not be left on their own.
Mongillo said drownings can happen swiftly and silently. Now that it’s swimming season, all of the fire departments in Snohomish County have been preaching safety, he said.
If you are the one looking after swimmers, “be there, be present, don’t be distracted,” he said.