Teen drowns in Steel Lake

Mirror staff

A Federal Way teenager died in an apparent drowning last Saturday at Steel Lake.

Eliazam Flores De Jesus, 15, was found in the water after he’d been missing for about four hours. An official cause of death hadn’t been announced by Monday, but Federal Way Police said accidental drowning was suspected.

He went swimming with a friend in a controlled swimming area at Steel Lake Park. While in the water, they split up. After about 30 minutes in the water, Flores De Jesus’ friend got out but couldn’t find him in the park. The friend went to a relative’s house and called Flores De Jesus’ home to ask if he was there. Members of Flores De Jesus’ family then went to the park to look for him, said police Lt. Lee Leddy.

They notified llifeguards, who called 9-1-1 and began searching underwater. The victim’s body was discovered by lifeguards at 7 p.m.

He’d been swimming in a controlled swimming area, where the deepest part reportedly is 12 feet. Relatives and friends said Flores De Jesus wasn’t a strong swimmer, according to Leddy.

Grief counseling was scheduled for the lifeguards involved in the incident, said Kurt Reuter, acting director of the Parks and Recreation Department.

Four lifeguards are assigned by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to the park, with a fifth on-call to help with high numbers of swimmers. The lifeguards are on duty from 1 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 1 to 8 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The weekend hours were applied seven days a week until budget cuts by the city last year resulted in reduced work hours for lifeguards.

The lifeguards usually are high school and college students. Their ages this year range from 18 to 25, Reuter said.

It was unclear if Flores De Jesus was a student. He wasn’t registered with Federal Way Public Schools, officials said

The drowning was the second involving a Federal Way teenager this year. Larry Bunting Jr., 17, drowned in the Green River April 29 while on an outing to film a video for his Fife High School graduation ceremony.

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