MONROE, Wash. - A warning after a woman drowned in a fast-moving creek in Snohomish County. Rescuers are urging people to remember the dangers of cold water especially on sunny, warm days.
This is the only the second apparent drowning in Snohomish County this year. It happened in the Cedar Ponds Park area near Monroe.
It was just before 2:30 p.m. Sunday when exhausted search and rescue crews began putting away just some of the rigging they used to hoist the 28-year-old woman's body out of ice-cold Young's Creek.
The Snohomish County Medical Examiner's office identified the victim as Molly S. Acey of Everett. The cause of death was determined to be drowning and blunt trauma to the head due to a fall, and the manner of death is classified as accident.
"There's really no way to mitigate once you've gone into the water," said John Morton, an experienced rescuer. "You have to prevent going into the water."
Morton led the 40-member Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue team. They engineered a four-hour, technical rescue high above water so treacherous they worked in twos to prevent anyone else from falling in.
"It's virtually certain if one of us had gone into the water," said Morton, "then that would be fatal."
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According to the Snohomish County sheriff, this woman and her boyfriend arrived here at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday.
They walked along this trail, which is a bit treacherous even at the start. They kept going until they were at a very high spot along the trail. It is there, according to her boyfriend, that she fell into Young's Creek.
It was so dark, the area so steep, the water moving so fast, her boyfriend could do little to help. So he walked to the trailhead and called 911.
But there was little first responders could do either, until first light.
"I always recommend if you're going to be close to the water, (wear) a helmet and life jacket," advised Sgt. John Adams.
That, he says, likely would have made a life-saving difference in this case, even if one doesn't plan to go in.
"Correct," he said. "I'm pretty sure these folks had no intention of going in the water last night."
And yet their late-night adventure ended in tragedy.
"I feel terrible for everybody involved," he said.
As the weather warms up, he and others want to warn again that this water is dangerously cold. It deserves to be treated with respect. That includes, at the very least, wearing a personal flotation device.
Adams says they suspect alcohol may have been involved in this case. They plan to investigate exactly what happened. But at least for now, they believe this was just a tragic accident.
The woman's body was recovered Sunday morning.
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