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August 23, 2013 at 2:30 PM
The Seattle Fire Department is reviewing water-rescue training protocols and is considering adding rescue swimmers to some engine companies following the death of a 27-year-old Washington State University student whose drowning in a downtown Seattle hotel swimming pool last month went undiscovered by a fire crew.
Tesfaye Girma Deboch apparently foundered in the pool’s deep end and submerged. Officials believe his body was held underwater by a drain pump whose emergency shutoff failed.
Earlier reports said that the water was so cloudy that firefighters could not see the drain at the bottom of the deep end of the 25-foot-long pool. However, a Fire Department report says that, while the water was hazy, the crew reported that “visibility was good” and that firefighters could see the drain, although no victim was seen. The crew decided not to put anyone in the pool, and a water-rescue and dive team dispatched from the Sodo District was canceled.
As an explanation, the report cites a 2007 study showing that lifeguards can have difficulties spotting submerged victims even when the bottom of the pool is visible. Chief Gregory Dean said the Fire Department will look into training some engine company members as rescue swimmers, review its water-rescue protocols and provide additional search-and-rescue training.
Deboch was one of 14 graduate students from WSU’s School of Economic Sciences who were in Seattle June 30 to attend the Western Economics Association International Conference. He and friends went swimming at the end of the day, and he disappeared below the surface. Firefighters were first dispatched at 5:35 p.m. but were unable to locate anyone in the pool. According to the report, the crews cleared from the scene after 17 minutes.
An autopsy indicated Deboch drowned.
The crews were dispatched again at 8:12 p.m. when a retired firefighter who was staying at the hotel joined in the ongoing search by Deboch’s frantic friends and found the body in the water using a pole. The report says firefighters found the water much hazier during their second response.
Dean said crews will likely receive updated training on underwater rescues in pools and close to shore — along with training about the difficulties of underwater searches. The report concluded that the “crew did not understand how challenging it is to see a submerged victim even when it appears that the bottom of the pool is plainly visible.”
July 11, 2013 at 9:53 AM
The Associated Press
A Washington State University graduate student and economics instructor has drowned in a Seattle hotel pool.
Tesfaye Deboch, 27, was swimming laps around 5:30 p.m. on June 30 at the Quality Inn & Suites near the Seattle Center. Witnesses say he suddenly stopped in the deep end of the pool and began waving his arms for help.
By the time first responders arrived at the hotel, Deboch had sunk to the bottom of the murky pool and could not be immediately located.
The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reports Deboch and other WSU graduate students were in Seattle attending an economics conference.
Deboch’s cause of death was listed as a drowning, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.
July 30, 2012 at 11:54 AM
The Associated Press
TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Searchers in southern Idaho are looking for the body of a Washington state man presumed drowned in the Snake River.
Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Lori Stewart told The Times-News that 42-year-old Justice Kramer of Graham, Pierce County, was hiking along the river near Pillar Falls with his 18-year-old daughter and her friend Saturday evening when he slipped on some rocks and tumbled into the water.
Kramer is presumed to have drowned. Search and Rescue teams searched the area Saturday night and all day Sunday but did not find the body. Stewart said they would resume the search Monday.
May 8, 2012 at 11:15 AM
The Associated Press
CHEHALIS — The Lewis County sheriff’s office is trying to determine how an 8-year-old boy who lived along the Chehalis River died in the water.
The boy’s mother reported him missing Friday afternoon and deputies found him about a quarter-mile down river on a gravel bar.
KBKW reports he could not be revived and was declared dead at a Centralia hospital.
KING reports neighbors blame erosion of the river bank and think he may have fallen in when the ground gave way. The boy lived in a home that’s within 20 feet of the river.
November 18, 2011 at 9:39 AM
A 14-year-old Wenatchee teen was found dead in a high school swimming pool yesterday morning.
The boy, Antonio Reyes, was found at the bottom of the pool about 11 a.m. by students arriving for the next class, according to The Wenatchee World.The boy was taken to the hospital, but couldn’t be revived.
Foul play isn’t suspected in the boy’s death.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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