The boy was visiting the river with his family at Twin Rivers Park on Sunday afternoon. He was playing in the river without a life jacket and was swept downstream, said Lt. Rodney Rochon of the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office.
The Arlington boy was in the water for about an hour before he was found. He was taken to Cascade Valley Hospital in Arlington where he died, Rochon said.
"We've been saying this for years: If you're going into moving water, wear a life jacket," Rochon said at the scene.
The incident was reported at 3:54 p.m. Fire and rescue personnel from several nearby departments responded to Haller Park, just downstream from Twin Rivers.
The boy was spotted by crew aboard SnoHawk 1, a county sheriff's helicopter, about a quarter-mile down the river among snags in the river. Divers from police hovercraft located the boy underwater nearly an hour after he was reported missing. The rescue point was about a half-mile from the road, so a bystander offered his four-wheel drive vehicle to crews to carry the boy out to an ambulance, Rochon said.
Earlier, people on four small inflatable boats drifted into the path of the hovercraft trying to find the boy, Rochon said.
"They made it harder for us to do our work," he said.
Seven people on those boats were ticketed for not wearing life jackets and for not having a sound-making device, such as a whistle -- both violations of state laws governing people on boats, Rochon said.
The fines totaled $174 for each person -- $87 for not wearing life jackets and another $87 for not having a sound-making device.
"We want people to play, we want people to have fun, and we want them all to come home safely," Rochon said.
Every year, several people drown in Snohomish County rivers, lakes and creeks, according to a pamphlet about river safety posted online by the Sheriff's Office.
Rochon said people often think they are safe in a back eddy or other area where the water is calm. With cold, fast-moving water nearby, however, things can change quickly, he said.
"One slip and you're gone," he said.
Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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