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TEEN DROWNS NEAR SULTAN WHILE RAFTING THE SKYKOMISH
July 16, 2010
(SULTAN, WA) -- The Snohomish County Sheriff’s office says a young man believed to be in his late teens drowned on the Skykomish River just west of Sultan Friday while out rafting with friends.
Map shows general area of drowning accident. CLICK TO ENLARGE
Rescue officials said a group of eight friends was out on the river in several different rafts when round 1 pm one of the rafts struck debris in the water and the young man - wearing just shorts and a T-shirt and no life vest - was thrown into the frigid water of the Skykomish River.
Friends tried to grab him, but strong river currents pinned him against a log under the water and he drowned.
Rescue personnel finally recovered the man’s body about 5 pm. No one else in the rafting party was injured.
Officials said none of the rafts the teens were using were river capable rafting devices but were more the swimming pool or calm lake type floating mattress devices and none of the teens were wearing a life vest.
All rivers near mountains are deceptively treacherous this time of year because mountain snow run off keeps debris in the rivers and temperatures in the rivers are frigid even though surface water temperature may seem warm in places.
And particularly on rivers like the Skykomish River, underwater currents are treacherous and the danger to rafters only becomes apparent once a person has gone into the river and ties to maneuver out of danger.
It's also the time of year when large numbers of people head to lakes, rivers, ponds and the various waters of Puget Sound to play and cool off.
Public health agencies and local fire departments caution people that the combo of cold waters and high temperatures this early in the summer significantly raises the risk of drowning.
Local lakes are cold and dangerously deep, and rivers are running swift and cold.
"Our local lakes and rivers may look inviting in the warming weather, but this is also the riskiest time to swim, tube, or raft in local lakes and rivers because of the cold and rapid waters," said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health - Seattle & King County last month.
Preventable and tragic deaths happen every year in local waterways. In fact drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury and death for children under age of 18. Most drowning deaths occur in outdoor settings such as lakes, rivers, and ponds.
~ Nationally, about 19% of drowning deaths involving children occur in public pools with certified lifeguards present and a swimming pool pool is 14 times more likely than a motor vehicle to be involved in the death of a child age 4 and under.
~ Of all preschoolers who drown, 70 percent are in the care of one or both parents at the time of the drowning and 75 percent are missing from sight for five minutes or less.
~ In 2009, King County lost 16 adults over 18 years of age to unintentional drowning, 10 of which took place in open water, such as rivers, lakes, ponds or Puget Sound.
~ Most drowning deaths occurred in the earlier part of swim season. In 2008, there were 100 drowning deaths statewide.
One positive development is that no children have drowned in two years by unintentional or non-traffic related causes. Drowning prevention activities and policies have contributed to this success, and local and state officials are building on these efforts to help communities and families prevent future tragedies.