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Boy survives near drowning with help of soldier on leave

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By Rikki King
Herald Writer
STANWOOD -- A 16-year-old Everett boy has survived after nearly drowning in Lake Goodwin on Sunday.
People at the lake took turns performing CPR on the boy until aid crews arrived. One of them was a local soldier who was home on leave.
Joel and Sarah Irwin grew up in north Snohomish County. They're living in Colorado Springs now, where he's stationed as a specialist and military police officer with the U.S. Army.
They took their kids to Lake Goodwin on Sunday to play in the water.
They were visiting family here and wanted to bring their children to the same lake where they made so many memories as kids, Sarah Irwin said.
Everyone was swimming, and Sarah Irwin got thirsty. She headed to shore for a break. About 20 feet away, she saw a teenage boy pulling another young man from the water.
The young man was not breathing. She knew her husband was CPR-certified -- he'd just undergone refresher training.
She yelled for him.
"He ran over there as fast as he could," she said.
Joel Irwin and several other people at the scene took turns performing CPR on the young man. When aid crews rushed him away, he was breathing and had a pulse.
The boy survived, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office. No additional information was released about him Monday.
The Irwins were supposed to head back on Friday but decided to stay in town a few more days, Sarah Irwin said. She was glad they were there to help the boy.
The scene was crowded and chaotic, she said. People were crying and yelling. Plenty of young children who were there witnessed what happened, including her relatives.
"We were all traumatized," she said.
Joel Irwin said he just followed his training. There wasn't time to think, he said. He'd done CPR before in emergencies, when he was overseas.
"As a soldier, we defend our country 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year," he said. "It's our duty to take care of those in need."
At least nine people have drowned in Snohomish County so far this year, including several children. That's a higher fatality rate than any recent summer, said sheriff's Lt. Rodney Rochon, who leads the marine unit.
"It's been the cold water and the failure to wear a lifejacket," he said.
Puget Sound and local rivers and lakes remain cold, he said. Even when the surface feels warm at 60 degrees, the water just six inches below can be 50 degrees.
The cold water alone lowers the chance of someone surviving a mishap, especially if they're fighting river currents, he said.
An 18-year-old man drowned July 1 in the Skykomish River near Index. His identity has not been made public. The day before, 10-year-old Elijah Gene Spratt died while swimming in the Stillaguamish River at Arlington.
Cooper W. Howat, 8, drowned the week before in Lake Roesiger.
Officials ask people who plan to be in the water to be careful and obey lifejacket laws.
Free loaner lifejackets are available at many county swimming areas. People are asked to return the jackets. Out of the 75 made available on Memorial Day Weekend, 49 already have gone missing. Anyone who's accidentally taken one home still can return it, Rochon said. Other people need the life jackets to enjoy the water safely.
"Just bring them back, and if you can't bring them back, take them to the nearest police station or fire station," he said.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449;
Safety tips
Everyone should wear life jackets that fit well and meet modern U.S. Coast Guard standards.
Groups also should assign an adult to watch children around the water full time.
For child safety and life jacket rental information, go to Life jacket rental cabinets at local parks are open.
Never use innertubes and rafts designed for swimming pools on open water.
Know your limits; do not attempt a section of river beyond your skill level.
Pay attention to weather and water conditions. Wear wool clothing or a wet suit and dress for the water temperature. If the water temperature and air temperature combined total 100 degrees or less, wear protective clothing.
Enter cold water slowly.
Avoid swimming near boat ramps or in boating areas.
Avoid downed trees, snags and confluences.
If your vessel capsizes, float on your back, feet together and pointed downstream. If you go over a ledge or drop, tuck into a ball.
If you're caught in a fast-flowing river or rapids, try to float feet first in a half-sitting position. Release your craft only if it improves your safety.
For information about boater education, go to

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