Monday, July 12, 2010

Swimmer in Saturday’s incident succumbs

The young man who was pulled unconscious from the water off Madison Park Beach on Saturday has died, according to Harborview Medical Center spokesperson Mary Guiden. The victim, who was in his early 20s, was found floating submerged in the water near the diving platform on Saturday evening, less than an hour after the beach’s lifeguards had ended their shift. According to reports, Good Samaritans began CPR on the man before the arrival of police and fire emergency crews, whose efforts to revive him extended for at least 20 minutes, both on the platform and the road-end pier. He was unconscious when transported to the hospital, and he apparently never regained consciousness. The man's name has not been released for reasons of family privacy.

There were media reports on Saturday that the victim was discovered after someone dove off the diving platform and felt a body in the water underneath him. Several swimmers successfully maneuvered the man onto the platform while watchers on the beach apparently called 911. There were still hundreds of beach goers, swimmers, and passersby in the vicinity when the incident occurred. The arrival of multiple emergency vehicles brought many more onlookers to watch the efforts of the EMS personnel. Surprisingly, I am told that no media have followed up with Harborview or the SFD to find out what happened to the man. Those of us who witnessed the sobering scene, however, are unlikely to forget it.

This is apparently the first drowning at Madison Park beach since August 2007, when a man’s body was found floating in the water off of Madison Park. In that case, the man’s clothing and a suicide note were later found on the beach. The drowning on Saturday is believed to be accidental, and the police confirm that there is no on-going investigation.

Several blog readers have commented negatively on the huge police and fire response to this incident. There was a similar reaction by some last year when a girl fell into the water from the diving platform and was apparently knocked unconscious (see the story here). Multiple fire and police vehicles rushed to the scene then, just as happened last weekend. There’s good reason for this huge response in the case of a possible drowning, according to Fire Department spokesperson Dana Vander Houwen. The rule, she told me, is that there must be at least seven responders who are trained in CPR. The reason for this is that CPR is physically exhausting to perform over an extended time, as may be necessary in drowning cases. Anyone watching the performance of the emergency crews on Saturday can attest to that.

Update: The Seattle Times on Tuesday reported that the dead swimmer was a 25-year-old South Korean student named Ahn Hyo Yun.

[Madison Park beach is located at 1900 43rd Avenue E.]


  1. Thank you Bryan - this is why I love this blog. Actual source and fact based journalism! That's rare in these infotainment oriented times. And thanks to Dana Vander Houwen for explaining.

  2. Thank you for your story.

  3. The Seattle Police deserve the criticism. They are quick to rush to play the "heroes", but lax to investigate common crimes. That must be too boring and unglamorous for them.

    I have had things stolen from me, gotten confessions from the perpetrators, and the police have done nothing, I was forced to seek restitution in civil court.

    Guess investigating theft isn't as interesting as speeding down Madison Ave with their sirens blaring to watch the real Emergency Responders do their job.

  4. Some of the facts are wrong here, but thank you for writing something on this as no one else has as far as I can see.

    I was swimming laps and resting near the dock when two young men had told me they were looking for their friend who did not know how to swim. We found his body on its back about 12 feet below on the lake floor about 10 feet West of the floating dock. The three of us dove down to retrieve the body, but when we got him to the floating dock he had no heart beat. I held his head while numerous people tried to revive him. It's been a bit tough dealing with this, and a stark reminder of how fragile life can be.

  5. I'm always concerned that the diving platform is too enticing for young folks and something like this could happen when there are no life guards (and often late at night in the dark.)

    My deepest condolences to the family.

  6. Wouldn't it have been cheaper to have lifeguards out there til sunset?


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