Mother of teen drowning victims speaks, begs for lifeguards

VIDEO: Mother of teens who drowned at Spanaway Lake speaks out

SPANAWAY, Wash. — The mother of the siblings who drowned in Spanaway Lake on Sunday said lifeguards need to be present when children are around.

Ramizan Mberwa, 15, drowned after jumping in the water to save his 14-year-old brother, Hamadi Mberwa, according to Pierce County officials.

Words can’t describe Maryan Mberwa’s heartache, losing two sons in a matter of minutes. “I can’t believe how they died,” she said. “I feel in my heart; it’s pain.”

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The family immigrated from Kenya and recently purchased a home in Spanaway. In many ways, they felt they were living the American dream.

On Labor Day weekend, the teenage brothers took a toy float to the designated swim area of Spanaway Lake after playing basketball, Maryan Mberwa explained.

“They needed to go swim because they felt hot. I said, ‘No, don’t go there. That water is too much.’ They said, ‘No mama, I know how to swim.’”

Mberwa said she heard her older son panic in the water.

“He’s saying, ‘Help, help,’ and all the people over there, they’re just laughing at him,” she explained.

The mother said no one understood why her son was in distress at first.

“I said, ‘What do you need help for?’ He said, ‘My brother is in here. My brother is in here!’” Mbwera said, “And I got in the water.”

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family pay for funeral expenses.

Deputies said Ramizan Mberwa died after jumping in the water to save his little brother. Maryan Mberwa can’t help but feel like their deaths could have been prevented.

“If there was a lifeguard there, they could have gotten them out,” she said.

County officials said Spanaway Lake hasn’t had a lifeguard on duty since the 1990s due to budget cuts.

Maryan Mberwa is begging for a change.

“If they don’t have money, or they don’t have a lifeguard, they need to close!” she said. “This happened to me today. I don’t want it to happen to someone else.”