Man drowns at Lake Sammamish State Park

June 29, 2010

Eastside Fire & Rescue Chaplain Shelley Frey (right) comforts the wife and 5-year-old son of Geronimo Morales, 23, of Seattle, as paramedics perform CPR on him June 24 in an aid car and prepare to transport him to Overlake Hospital Medical Center. By Greg Farrar

Lake Sammamish, still cold for swimmers despite sunshine and balmy temperatures on land, claimed a Seattle man late last week during a family outing at the state park.

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No lifeguard on duty at state park

June 29, 2010

State cuts eliminate program from Lake Sammamish

The drowning at Lake Sammamish State Park last week exposed strains in a state budget too stretched to fund lifeguards in state parks.

Geronimo Morales, 23, drowned June 24, just offshore from crowded Tibbetts Beach, which has been left unguarded for 16 of the past 18 years.

Officials said tight budgets limit the amount the state can spend on lifeguards at Lake Sammamish and other state-managed swimming spots.

Tibbetts Beach has lacked regular lifeguards since 1992, and swimmers must enter the lake at their own risk.

Such accidents remain too common, despite steps to prevent such tragedies, parks and public heath officials said last week. The drowning also raises concerns about water safety as Lake Sammamish and other state parks ready for the summer rush.

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Stay safe near the water this summer

June 29, 2010

Summertime sunshine lures residents in Issaquah and across King County to lakes, streams and rivers unwatched by lifeguards.

King County Sheriff’s Office data shows most King County drownings — 56 percent — occur in April, May and July.

Fast-moving currents can pull unsuspecting users under trees and logjams left from winter, and lead to drowning. Wear a lifejacket, steer clear of high, running water and swim only in designated areas.

Public Health – Seattle & King County also urges people to swim only in areas with lifeguards, but waterways in state and most county parks lack lifeguards.

The agency recommends for people not to swim while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Despite summer temperatures on land, waterways remain cold from snowmelt, so hypothermia poses a risk to swimmers. Hypothermia affects everyone, regardless of age, size or experience. Officials recommend thermal protection for adventurous types taking to the water.

Boaters should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved lifejacket. Officials also recommend a life jacket for people floating on inner tubes or swimming in open water.

Lake Sammamish State Park offers free lifejackets for park goers to borrow at the popular Tibbetts Beach swimming area. Call the park office at 649-4276 to learn more.

Under state law, everyone younger than 12 must wear a life jacket while on any boat less than 19 feet long. Every boat must have a lifejacket for everyone on board.

Sources: Public Health – Seattle & King County, King County Sheriff’s Office