Federal Way teen drowns at Steel Lake
By ANDY HOBBS
Federal Way Mirror Editor
August 7, 2012 · Updated 8:28 PM
A Federal Way teenager has died after being rescued Sunday from Steel Lake.
Tope Akinlosotu, 15, was taken to St. Francis Hospital in serious condition on Aug. 5. The Mirror confirmed that Tope has died despite efforts at the hospital to save him.
Tope was a student at Federal Way High School and the son of Matthew Akinlosotu. Multiple posts on Facebook expressed grief for the teen and his family.
South King Fire and Rescue's surface water crews canvassed the lake and found the teen under the dock, submerged in 12 feet of water. He was rescued at 2:44 p.m. Sunday, nearly 30 minutes after the first call for help. Medics performed CPR and life support at the scene, and were able to get a heartbeat.
According to a Federal Way police report, Tope and a group of friends met at Steel Lake Park to go swimming. A friend said Tope sat on the dock and dangled his feet over the edge before he suddenly slid into the water. The friend never saw Tope come up and began looking for him. Another witness reported that she heard Tope say "I can't float" and "How do you kick in the water?"
A lifeguard saw the commotion and cleared people out of the water, according to the police report. The lifeguards on duty searched for Tope before police and rescue workers arrived.
A few hundred people attended a vigil that was held at 7 p.m. Aug. 6 at Federal Way High School, 30611 16th Ave. S. Counselors were available at the school earlier in the day Monday to offer assistance to grieving friends. A public memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 10, at Christian Faith Center, 33645 20th Ave. S., Federal Way.
Several people described Tope as a friendly and outgoing teen. Tope was a gifted track and field athlete who also played football. The soon-to-be sophomore was active in student life at Federal Way High School, and was enrolled in the academically rigorous Cambridge Program.
"This kid was going places," said family friend and Federal Way author Nandell Palmer. "He was very charismatic, very outgoing, very caring and considerate."
Steel Lake was the scene of another drowning in July. Rescuers found 17-year-old Prabhakar Kumar in 12 feet of water. He had been submerged for nearly 15 minutes, and later died at the hospital.
In Pierce County, 19-year-old Marques Weekly of Kent died after being rescued Sunday from Lake Tapps, marking the third drowning at the lake this summer.
South King Fire officials urge safety and caution during water recreation. As far as general safety tips, swimmers should swim with a buddy, avoid horseplay and know their environment's hazards.
As seen Monday afternoon at Federal Way High School in memory of Tope Akinlosotu:
Contact Federal Way Mirror Editor Andy Hobbs at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-253-925-5565 (ext 5050).