A 17-year-old Tacoma boy on his first camping trip drowned Saturday after he jumped into the Chehalis River.
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said deputies responded to Rainbow Falls State Park, off of SR6 in Chehalis, on Saturday afternoon. Witnesses said the victim had been camping at the park with a group of friends when they all decided to go swimming at the nearby river.
The boy told his friends he was not a very good swimmer and one of his friends told him not jump in the water. The boy then jumped feet first into the water.
One witness said when he surfaced from the jump he looked panic stricken and began flailing his arms. The witness, a 19 year old female, jumped in to save him but he was flailing his arms so much that she was unable to make contact before he quickly went under water and did not resurface.
The Sheriff’s Office said the victim was from Nigeria originally and had only been in Washington for 8 months. This was his first camping trip.
The water was fairly swift and cold.
“This is another tragic water related fatality,” said Sheriff Steve Mansfield. “Once again we are advising the public that whenever you are in areas of water, wear a flotation device if you aren’t a good swimmer. 90 percent of water related fatalities could have been prevented by wearing a floatation device.”