Bottom-line police work

By KATE REARDON

Herald Writer

EVERETT – Somehow a moose got loose.

But at least there are no creatures from the Black Lagoon lurking in Silver Lake.

"There are no Sasquatches or Loch Ness monsters in there," said Wally Friesen, lead diver with the Everett Police Department dive team.

About a dozen scuba divers, most from Everett and Monroe police departments, slithered to the bottom of Silver Lake during a training exercise Friday and retrieved plenty of garbage as part of a cleanup to make the lake safer.

Golf balls, Band-Aids and beer cans surfaced. And divers snatched up paddles, a chunk of asphalt and a paddle boat rudder. One diver found a 12-inch plastic moose.

Hauling up the junk makes the small lake safer for everyone, said Karen Taylor, recreation superintendent for the city’s parks department.

Chances are, it’s not healthy for a swimmer diving off a dock to hit a shopping cart stuck at the bottom of the lake, she said. On warm summer days, as many as 2,000 people may stop by the park, and many go for a swim, Taylor said.

The cleanup at Silver Lake was a first for the police divers. Friesen came up with the idea after a scare with his diving partner when police tried to recover the body of a drowning victim at the lake in December 1998.

Friesen said his partner, who is no longer with the department, became entangled in some fishing line that was caught on a 15-pound anchor at the bottom of the lake.

Friesen said he knew something was wrong when his partner came to the surface and then went back down. They were able to break him free, Friesen said.

"That’s when I got to thinking ‘what’s down there (at the lake bottom)?’ " he said. "Visibility in Silver Lake can be tricky. We call it Braille diving."

Safety measures are also taken daily during the swim season. Silver Lake beach lifeguards, who are also certified divers, scan the underwater swimming area twice a day.

"A lot of it is for safety, but you never know if someone may have been swimming overnight," Taylor said.

One year, during a morning dive, a drowning victim’s body was found.

Last year the Everett dive team was called out 11 times. Divers recovered four bodies from the Snohomish River, Silver Lake and Port Gardner Bay. Friesen, who has been diving since 1992, said the dive team has also recovered a stolen car or two that has been rolled into the lake. All seven police divers also work as detectives, patrol officers or harbor patrol.

Over the years, lifeguard divers have found shopping carts, bicycles and fishing gear.

"Our main focus is on the swimmers’ area," Taylor said, adding that Friday’s divers scanned a larger and deeper area of the lake. "We don’t go in the outer perimeter."

You can call Herald Writer Kate Reardon at 425-339-3455or send e-mail to

reardon@heraldnet.com.

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