UPDATED: Teenager drowns Saturday in Lake Tapps
By BRIAN BECKLEY
Bonney Lake-Sumner Courier-Herald Reporter
September 14, 2011 · Updated 11:46 AM
A 17-year-old boy drowned Saturday at Lake Tapps North Park after going into the swimming area to retrieve a ball.
The Pierce County Medical Examiner has identified the boy as Robert Harris of Federal Way. An autopsy was scheduled to be completed Monday.
East Pierce Fire and Rescue firefighters were dispatched to reports of a drowning at the Pierce County Park on the north end of Lake Tapps at 5:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10.
Witnesses said the 17-year-old boy had gone into the water in the swimming area to retrieve a ball and was approximately 75 yards from shore when it appeared he was in trouble and sunk below the surface.
A Pierce County Sheriff deputy on scene at the park responded immediately. Divers from East Pierce, Pierce County Sheriff and the Valley Regional Fire Authority began searching for the victim. Divers from the Tacoma Police Department and the City of Renton Fire and Emergency Services Department also responded.
The victim was found and brought to shore just after 6:40 p.m. East Pierce personnel worked for 30 minutes to revive the man before he was declared dead at the scene. Chaplains from East Pierce and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chaplaincy responded to assist with family members.
Divers said that, despite warm weather, the water temperature at the time was 73 degrees.
Officials with East Pierce warned that while the surface temperature of the water is heated by the sun, the water underneath in Lake Tapps can remain much colder, sometimes reaching as low as the 50s.
"It can be devastatingly chilly below the surface," said Dina Sutherland, public education specialist.
Sutherland said even good swimmers can have problems in cold water that make it difficult to get out and can cause problems and said the message was "know your water, know your limits."
Contact Bonney Lake-Sumner Courier-Herald Reporter Brian Beckley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-825-2555 ext. 5058.