Federal Way man drowns in Lake Tapps on Labor Day

A man who drowned Labor Day in Lake Tapps has been identified as Arvin R. Weherawatthage of Federal Way by the Pierce County Medical Examiner's Office.

Weherawatthage, 39, was swimming across a designated swimming area at Lake Tapps North Park with a friend when he disappeared under the surface.

A Pierce County Sheriff's Department diver was already on the scene and recovered Weherawatthage within 10 minutes after he went under. Additional divers and medical personnel who responded were unable to resuscitate Weherawatthage.

He was pronounced dead at the scene around 4:30 p.m. Officials determined it was an accident.

Sheriff's department spokesman Ed Troyer said divers were in the area because the long weekend would draw more people than normal, and Lake Tapps has been the scene of several drownings in recent years.

The lake is glacier feed, making for really cold temperatures, Troyer said. The water is also dark, and lots of snags at the bottom present risks to swimmers, Troyer said.

"People just don't realize what happens to their body when the temperature gets that low," Troyer said. "Strong young men can drown in there because their body is weakened by the cold."

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