Aunt Of 8-Year-Old Girl Who Drowned In Washington State Lakes Says Girl's Death Could Have Been Prevented

| by Jared Keever

The aunt of an 8-year-old girl who was recently found drowned in a central Washington state lake, says the young girl’s death could have been prevented.

Divers recovered the body of Christine Bethay, 8, Tuesday from the waters of Lake Cle Elum, near where she had been attending a summer camp, KCPQ News reports. 

Christine had first been reported missing Monday evening, according to the Yakima Herald. She was last seen swimming in a small cove near the mouth of Morgan Creek. 

Police said in a news release that it was unclear exactly how, or when, the girl disappeared as some of the children at the camp reported seeing Christine walk back to the camp area after exiting the water. 

Kittitas County Search and Rescue divers searched the area where she was last seen Monday evening until the search was suspended around midnight. They resumed the search at 5 a.m. Tuesday and found the girl’s body at around 7:45 a.m. The body was located in about 6 feet of water, approximately 20 feet from shore.

Christine’s aunt, Miranda Bethay, told KCPQ that she thinks if adults had been more aware of the lake’s dangers her niece might still be alive. 

“The currents are very strong, the water is unpredictable, you could be in two feet of water at one point and then 12 feet the next,” Bethay said. 

In a news release, Kittitas Undersheriff Clayton Meyers said Christine’s death appeared to be a tragic accident.

“The loss of a child touches the deepest emotions in us all and these emotions often manifest with guilt, anger or depression,” Meyers said. “We can focus on blame, believing that, if we can hold someone accountable it will somehow make sense and lessen the pain. It seldom does.

“Even with the most vigilant supervision, someone can slip into deeper water and, without a sound or splash, they are gone."

The founder of the camp, who was not named, told KCPQ that he was devastated by the girl’s death. He added that he had worked with kids for 25 years and had never had a serious injury on any previous outing. 

Nevertheless, Bethay maintains her niece’s death was preventable.

“Christine did not know how to swim,” she said. “What I think happened were some poor judgments were made. That campground was not suitable for children. If they had bothered to put a life jacket on Christine, there’s a good chance she would still be here.”

She added that she doesn’t want another family to experience what her family is currently going through. 

“I want people to know things like this can be prevented and not brush it off as another tragic accident that happens during the summer time,” Bethay said through tears. “It’s our responsibility to safeguard our kids,  whether who we choose or who we entrust to take care of them.”

Sources: KCPQ News, Yakima Herald

Photo Credit: KCPQ News, Wikipedia