Victim loved her life on Lake Stevens

LAKE STEVENS — Cindy Tate learned to swim in Lake Stevens.

She loved the water, enjoyed boating and swimming.

On Saturday evening, Tate, 48, loaded up her ski boat with relatives and friends to watch the summer sky turn orange.

Instead of a sunset cruise on the lake Tate knew so well, the evening turned into a tragedy.

Officials believe a wave broke over the bow of the 20-foot boat and flooded it. The boat flipped, throwing all 10 people aboard into the water. Nine made it safely to shore.

Tate likely was trapped behind the helm. Snohomish County sheriff’s divers found her Sunday afternoon in 50 feet of water.

Her drowning death is the first fatal boating accident on Lake Stevens in recent memory, officials said.

“The community has suffered a great loss,” Mayor Vern Little said Monday. “She was just one of those people that everybody liked.”

Tate graduated from Lake Stevens High School and raised her two children, 19 and 22, in her hometown.

“Her favorite thing to do was to be out on that boat,” her niece, Rachel Baunsgard, said. “It’s just so ironic.”

The family was struggling to cope with their grief Monday, Baunsgard said.

“Aunt Cindy was the decision maker,” she said.

Tears came to Cindy Tate’s eyes most frequently through laughter, her niece said.

“She loved to laugh,” Baunsgard said.

Now, the tears from so many in Lake Stevens are for her.

Cindy Tate loved her children. She loved her Seattle Seahawks. She loved her family. She loved her lake.

“She just was so sweet,” Baunsgard said.

Lifelong friend Cheri Russum described Tate as “a bright light that attracted people.”

Everybody was her best friend. Everybody loved her, Russum said. “This is a tragic death that will ripple through the community for a time to come,” she said.

For more than 30 years, Take worked for Wells Fargo Bank and was the manager of the Lake Stevens Marketplace branch in Frontier Village, said Patrick Yalung, president of the bank’s Washington region.

“We are all stunned and deeply saddened by the tragic news of our colleague Cindy Tate’s death,” he said in a statement. “We have lost someone very special.”

In respect for Tate, the bank branch remained closed Monday.

“Our thoughts, prayers and sympathies are with Cindy’s family and friends,” Yalung said.

Tate was active in the Greater Lake Stevens Chamber of Commerce, said Police Chief Randy Celori, chamber president.

She helped develop the annual gala and participated in the chamber’s events, he said.

“It was a tragic accident,” he said.

Rescue crews were first called around 9:30 p.m. Saturday to the south end of the lake. As midnight approached, the rescue mission turned into a recovery effort.

Sheriff’s officials on Monday still were trying to determine what caused the boat to sink. It may take until Wednesday to raise it from the bottom of the lake.

It’s a popular lake in the community and people are familiar with it, especially the people who live around it or nearby, sheriff’s spokeswoman Rebecca Hover said. That familiarity may cause people to let their guard down, she said.

Tate’s niece said that her aunt always was fastidious about safety.

She made sure children wore life jackets on the boat and that it was regularly inspected and repaired, Baunsgard said.

No one on the boat Saturday was wearing a life vest, police said. They were all adults.

Tate is survived by her husband, two children, parents and many relatives and friends. Funeral plans were still being made Monday.

Police and fire officials could not recall the last time there was a fatal boating accident on the lake. Saturday was the first time a person has drowned in Lake Stevens since July 4, 2006. That’s when a Woodinville man, 22, died after jumping into the lake from the roof of a boathouse.

Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437, jholtz@heraldnet.com.

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