A 13-year-old died at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital after Pierce County divers pulled him out of Spanaway Lake Sunday afternoon.
The teen, identified by the Pierce County Medical Examiner's office at Olanrenwaju Wuraola, was from Tacoma and was at the lake with his church group, investigators said. Olanrenwaju was an eighth grader at First Creek Middle School and he went by the nickname "Lanre."
The incident happened about 3:30 p.m.
“I hear screaming and someone's yelling they can't find him,” said Jose Rocha, who was at the lake with his family and 6-year-old son. “People running chaotic, seeing the mother in a sheer panic, the family just devastated,” he said.
Rocha said dozens of people jumped in the water to try and help, feeling the water with their hands and feet.
Scroll down to continue reading.
More news from KIRO 7
- Sadness and relief: Steven Powell's estranged daughter on her dad's death
- WATCH: Seafair Torchlight Parade in downtown Seattle
- Police looking for information after murder in South Seattle
- Victim's family blames DOC for convicted killer's 'murderous rampage'
- Construction worker plays saxophone to save the Showbox
“Hoping you'd be able to all of a sudden pull a miracle of God and pull him out yourself,” Rocha said.
First responders had everyone get out of the water as the dive team went in. Eventually, the Pierce County Metro dive team found the teen.
Investigators say he was under water for about 30 minutes.
“He was down a long time. He was down a very long time,” Rocha said.
Rocha said he and his family were with the boy and another teen 10 minutes before the teen went missing.
“Simple fact is that this kid actually made a connection with us,” Rocha said. “You see this kid with the biggest smile in the world, just such bright eyes.”
Rocha said during one of their last exchanges, he tried to warn the teen.
“I heard him talking to the other kid, mentioning he’s not a very good swimmer. That’s when I told him don't be going out too far, stay close,” Rocha said.
The sheriff’s office said the teen went underwater to retrieve a toy. First responders rushed him to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital unresponsive.
“I feel hurt and I didn't even know this kid, I just met him for 15, 20 minutes in the water,” Rocha said.
“It’s nothing compared to what that family is going through. My sorrow is nothing, you know,” he said. “My heart just bleeds for the family and my prayers go out to them.”
Spanaway Lake’s swimming area does not have a lifeguard and a sign warns people to “swim at your own risk.”
Other parents at the lake Sunday say it’s something that needs to change to help keep kids safe.
The drowning is also connected to a deputy-involved crash in Frederickson. It happened at 176th Street East and Canyon Road East while deputies were responding to the drowning call.
© 2020 Cox Media Group