Tragedy struck the waters of Lake Stevens for a second summer in a row.
On Thursday, August 19, at approximately 7:40 p.m., a ski boat, driven by a 17-year-old Lake Stevens boy, collided into a Lake Stevens Rowing Club doubles racing shell.
“It was determined that the ski boat struck one of three or four sculls on the water,” Lake Stevens Police Chief Randy Celori said.
Dave Balbirona, a 42-year-old Lake Stevens man and a 50-year-old woman from Snohomish were piloting the shell during a Masters practice near the North Cove boat launch.
Both were active members of LSRC and were accomplished athletes and experienced rowers, Tony Scoringe, spokesperson for the Lake Stevens Rowing Club said.
The woman was uninjured, however, the Balbirona didn’t resurface.
Extensive rescue efforts were made by Lake Stevens Police, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue and Lake Stevens Fire District that evening. However, his body was not recovered until Friday afternoon.
“Snohomish County’s Search and Rescue Dive Team is using thermal imaging to help recover the body,” Celori said on Thursday evening.
Recovery efforts continued again on Friday morning as fellow rowers waited a North Cove Park.
“Search and Rescue teams were on the water shortly after 8 a.m.,” Scoringe said on Friday morning. “They are currently using sonar to locate the body.”
Witnesses were taken out to the scene Friday morning to verify the position.
The 17-year-old pilot of the ski boat was pulling another 17-year-old wakeboarder out of the water. There was a third 17-year-old boy in the boat.
First reports stated that the boys left the scene, however, that is not true.
“The boys were just outside of the no wake zone,” Scoringe explained. “They stopped their boat immediately and assisted in the rescue process. Thankfully, we were able to get the lady out safely.”
Police are still investigating the cause of the accident, however, drugs and alcohol are not involved. The glare from the sun may be a contributing factor, Celori said.
The Lake Stevens rowing community is saddened by this event and is helping the family cope with their loss.
“Our rowing community extends its heartfelt thoughts and hopes to our missing friend’s family and relatives,” Scoringe said in a statement.
Last summer, Lake Stevens resident Cindy Tate was killed in a boating accident on Lake Stevens when her boat, carrying 10 people, was flipped over by a wave.