South Sound News

For $100, he'd swim out and get the remote-control boats. Cold water sent him into shock

American Lake is seen in a 2014 file photo. Peter Haley Staff file, 2014, The News Tribune

LAKEWOOD, Wash. — A man who was paid $100 to retrieve two remote-control boats from American Lake died after nearly drowning Sunday in the frigid waters, according to Lakewood police.

Michael Smith, 57, died in an area hospital a couple days after the near-drowning, Chief Mike Zaro said Thursday afternoon.

According to Zaro:

A 33-year-old man was playing with two remote control boats on American Lake about 5 p.m. Sunday when they both got stuck.

He didn’t want to get wet getting the boats back, so he paid Smith $100 to swim out and retrieve them.

Because of the lake’s cold temperature, Smith went into shock in the water.

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The 33-year-old man dragged Smith back to land and called 911. Medics transported Smith to the hospital, where he was placed on life support.

A Lakewood police detective did contact Pierce County prosecutors to discuss criminal charges against the 33-year-old, but Zaro said there was no foreseeable, reasonable cause of death for Smith — instead, the 33-year-old merely did not want to get wet.

“He didn’t do anything to put him at risk here, so there would be no component for manslaughter,” Zaro said.