The first part of the Sheriff’s Department Mission Statement says that we will “Protect life and property…” But even when we make exceptional, heroic efforts to do so, we do not always succeed.
This was the case last Sunday when a 13–year–old was swimming with his church group on Spanaway Lake. He dove underwater to retrieve a squirt gun but did not resurface. Immediately, members of the group searched for him. Others called 911.
Deputies arrived at the park three minutes after the 911 call. The first three deputies to arrive removed their boots and vests, and ran into the water still wearing their uniforms. They dove down again and again. One deputy continued to do so for more than 20 minutes at depths of 12-15 feet. The two other deputies searched the shallower areas and kept watch over the deputy who was farther out in the lake.
A deputy on our dive team arrived and joined in the search efforts. A short time later, our dive team deputy located the boy underwater and brought him to shore. Central Pierce Medics who were standing by immediately began CPR and rushed the boy to Mary Bridge Hospital. I am sorry to report that he passed away within the hour.
This was a tremendously sad and difficult outcome for the boy’s family and friends. Our deputies also felt the loss of the boy. Many of our deputies have kids and those present, as parents themselves, mourned with the family.
Our deputies made every effort. But they were disappointed that they were not able to locate him sooner. Prayers for the family’s terrible loss. And my gratitude for the quick response,
long-sustained efforts and compassion of the responding Deputies.
“Blessed are those who mourn…” And blessed as well are those who risk themselves to prevent occasions for mourning.