Interactive map shows abnormally high number of drownings in western Washington

It's been a particularly deadly year on the waterways of western Washington. 

From two separate drownings at Eagle Falls to an 18-year-old losing his life at a rock quarry in Thurston County, search and rescue crews say the drastic rise in drownings is weighing on them. 

In King County alone, the number of drownings so far this year has outpaced the average number of drownings in an entire year. Crews in Seattle responded to three separate drownings on Lake Washington over a 10-day period, two of those in one day. 

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Friends told responders that one of the Lake Washington drowning victims was a really strong swimmer, which is why crews encourage everyone to wear a life jacket, no matter your skill level. The water is colder than you think, officials say, and it can send even the strongest swimmer into shock. 

Officials are pointing to coronavirus-related closures, which have shut down public pools and and prompted more people to go boating, as a possible reason for the increase in people swimming in lakes and rivers.

Whatever the reasons may be, the nearly two dozen drownings highlighted in the map below don't paint a full picture: King County has had 17 drownings so far in 2020, but Public Health - Seattle & King County was unable to provide a complete list of when and where they happened. Some, not all, are included in the map below. 

"It looks like some 7-8 deaths in August now, compared to 2-3 on average previously for those same years," said Tony Gomez, manager of violence and injury prevention for Public Health - Seattle & King County.

King County has reported roughly 13 deaths in the open water since mid-May. 

Snohomish County Search and Rescue has reported five drownings, but only those in unincorporated Snohomish are included on the list. The map does not include drownings reported in Everett or other cities in the county. 

Lt. Ray Brady with the Thurston County Sheriff's Office says search and rescue crews there have responded to four drownings this year. 

“Tragedy can strike when you least expect it. Lots of us have fun on the lake, but there are those times where we need to make sure water safety is a consideration as well,” said Kristin Tinsley, a public information officer for the Seattle Fire Department. "Take water safety seriously."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.