Family grieves loss of brother drowned in Lake Ballinger, officials plea precautions

Beautiful summer weather always draws people to the waters across Washington, but police are reminding people of the dangers on the waters if they don’t use precaution.

A Mountlake Terrace family is dealing with that harsh reality after a loved one drowned at Lake Ballinger over the weekend. 

The family of Ismael Mazariegos Barreda identified him as the drowning victim at Lake Ballinger. The Snohomish County Search and Rescue Unit recovered the 35-year-old’s body Monday morning.

His loved ones could not hold back tears as they tried to process how their family outing turned into tragedy.

“He was a very good brother. He had a son and we worried a lot about him,” Barreda’s sister said in Spanish, as an interpreter translated.

Mountlake Terrace Police said Barreda was a local resident. The family is originally from Honduras and his siblings said they visited Lake Ballinger Sunday evening after spending the day on the beach.

His brother explained the whole family went for a swim in the lake, but Barreda, who wasn’t a great swimmer, didn’t make it back to shore. They called 911.

Mountlake Terrace police said the family told investigators the 35-year-old was going to swim to the lake’s island, which is located a few hundred yards away. That is where search and rescue teams began their recovery efforts Sunday evening before finding him closer to shore Monday morning.

“These seem to happen every year. And we watch the news, we see all over the state and throughout the country people have these tragic accidents when they’re having family gatherings,” said Commander Pat Lowe of the Mountlake Terrace Police Department.

Lake Ballinger is known in the community as a very popular place in the summer time. Lowe said unfortunately, there is always a drowning there about once a year.

Lowe said Barreda’s sudden loss of life is a harsh reminder that it could happen on waters anywhere across the state. He is encouraging others to think of the risks before going in.

“The vegetation in the water, how strong of a swimmer you are, whether you have a flotation devices, whether you’ve been drinking or intoxicated. All of those things are things to consider,” said Lowe. “There could be people suffering from a little bit heat exhaustion or heat stroke which would probably give them a diminished capacity for swimming and doing physical exertion.”

The commander said the summer heat could also be deceiving as the waters aren’t as warm as some may think. He is reminding people hypothermia can set in within minutes after entering cold water, causing numbness, weak pulse, slow and shallow breathing and confusion.

“It’s also important to make sure that you swim in a public area where there’s other people around and let people know what your plan is,” said Lowe.

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office is working to determine an official cause of death.

“This is just a terrible, unfortunate incident that occurred. But for everyone else out there, just try to be as safe as possible,” said Lowe.

Barreda’s family said they are trying to find strength to console his 11-year-old son who had a panic attack when the incident happened.

They are remembering him as a nice man who loved his child and are trying to raise enough money to bury him in Honduras. Loved ones are welcoming community donations and support as they begin to heal from the sudden loss.