16-year-old Pasco boy drowns at Schlagel Park

Ingrid Stegemoeller, Herald staff writerAugust 4, 2009 

PASCO — A 16-year-old Pasco boy drowned Monday at the Schlagel Park boat basin in Pasco after he reportedly got tired while swimming with friends.

Emergency officials received a report about 5:30 p.m. that a boy was having trouble in the water, said Ken Meyers, acting captain for the Pasco Fire Department.

Friends of the boy tried to save him but he had started pulling them down too, Meyers said.

Divers with Columbia Basin Dive Rescue pulled the teen's body from the water about 8:30 p.m.

Family members lined the shore during the search and wailed when the boy's body was found.

The teen's name was not released by officials Monday night but family members and friends at the park identified him as Carlos Rivera.

Rivera was the only boy among four siblings, said his younger sister, Alondra Gonzalez, 12.

"He was always a cool brother," she said while divers searched the water.

Peter Moreno, 16, of Pasco, said he was swimming with Rivera when he started yelling for help.

Moreno said he tried to help but Rivera kept pulling him under the water.

"We all tried to get back to the dock to get help," said Moreno, who pointed out to emergency officials where the incident happened.

The water was murky with silt and plant life, allowing little visibility, said Francis Buck, operations director for Columbia Basin Dive Rescue and one of three divers who searched the water.

Divers performed a methodical search and found the teen's body about midway between the dock and the jetty, Meyers said.

Ruth G. Green of Pasco has been coming to the park for years and was on her way for an evening kayak when she heard sirens, she said.

She offered to help officials and spent about an hour circling the area in her boat, checking near the marina.

And while the incident won't deter Green from returning to the park, she said she'll be more aware of the danger, particularly because of all the plants in the water.

"Now I worry about it," Green said.

Keri Lobdell of Richland said she heard kids loudly yelling in the water when she arrived at the park around 5:30 p.m. to bring her son to a sailboat class.

She knew there was trouble when the kids came to shore and asked nearby adults to call for help. Police arrived within minutes, Lobdell added.

The first police officer to arrive jumped into the water, according to Pasco police.

Lobdell was one of several dozen people who spent about three hours watching while rescuers searched the water.

Officials offered several suggestions for staying safe while swimming.

Buck advised swimmers to avoid areas with boat traffic, such as the boat basin, where "No Swimming" signs were posted.

"Don't swim beyond your means. Always swim with a buddy," he said, adding it's important to call for help immediately if someone gets into trouble.

Meyers said wearing life jackets also is important.

* Ingrid Stegemoeller: 509-582-1537; istegemoeller@tricityherald.com

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