A Wenatchee teen died early Sunday, the morning after firefighters in snorkel gear were able to rescue him from roughly half an hour underwater in the Columbia River.
Eduardo Felipe-Escalante, 18, died at 3:40 a.m. at Central Washington Hospital, said Chelan County Deputy Coroner Earl Crowe. Crowe examined the body this morning at Central Washington Hospital and gave the cause of death as drowning.
The young man disappeared under the water in Porter’s Pond, a placid cove off the East Wenatchee side of the Apple Capital Loop Trail. He was with a group of friends who called 911 at 4:08 p.m. Saturday, reporting that neither they nor their missing friend could swim.
Porter’s Pond is a popular swimming area with placid water sheltered by a sandbar island. East Wenatchee Police Officer Carrie Knouf said Saturday Felipe-Escalante was apparently wading toward the island when he stumbled into water over his head.
East Wenatchee police and Douglas County District No. 2 firefighters responded, as did Wenatchee Fire Capt. Bruce Hosfeld and engineers Clint Webley and Mike Day from Station 41. Hosfeld and Webley went into the water wearing wetsuits, weight belts and snorkels, while Day monitored from shore.
Pointed to the victim’s last known location, Webley and Hosfeld recovered him from the riverbottom on their first pass and hauled him to shore to begin CPR. It was 4:38 p.m., half an hour after the 911 call, and Felipe-Escalante’s heart had stopped, Hosfeld said.
After about 15 minutes of CPR the firefighters helped Lifeline EMTs load the victim into their ambulance, where he showed vital signs after receiving a defibrillator shock. He was taken to Central Washington Hospital, and remained in intensive care until his death hours later.
Hosfeld said he and other firefighters have been training and equipping for such quick water rescues for the last 15 years. The snorkel equipment allows them to operate at depths up to about 12 feet.
“This is something we’ve been doing quite a while, and just haven’t had a save like that,” Hosfeld said.