Despite the joviality of the annual Madison Park Days children’s parade and community picnic earlier that day, the spirit at the crowded Madison Park Beach quickly turned serious on July 10 as news spread that an inexperienced swimmer had drowned within a half-hour of lifeguards going off-duty at 7 p.m.
According to Seattle Police spokesperson Jeff Kappel in The Seattle Times, Ahn Hyo Yun, a 25-year-old South Korean exchange student, was swimming from the beach, at 1900 43rd Ave. E., to the diving platform offshore with friends. They noticed that Yun hadn’t arrived with them, so they searched for him for 15 minutes.
With the assistance of other swimmers, they found Yun submerged and unconscious near the floating dock. CPR was performed immediately and steadily until emergency responders arrived to continue resuscitation efforts and transport him to Harborview Medical Center.
Yun was not breathing and didn’t have a pulse when he was rescued, Kappel said. Medics had regained a pulse, but Yun wasn’t breathing on his own during his transport to the hospital, where he was listed as being in critical condition.
Yun died the following day.
Good medical response
An anonymous physician who aided in trying to resuscitate Yun, described in his comment to a Madison Park Blogger (www.madisonparkblogger.com) story how the numerous emergency personnel worked to save Yun’s life “in an incredibly brief period of time.”
A firefighter swam to the dock with life-saving equipment within five minutes of receiving the call at 7:52 p.m., and a police boat arrived two minutes later, he wrote.
Ultimately, two ambulances, two fire engines and numerous other emergency personnel also responded to the scene.
The physician added, “It’s great to live in a city where [formally] untrained bystanders will initiate rescue breaths and chest compressions on a complete stranger,” though he noted that Yun “received very good CPR immediately from the swimmers on the diving dock.”
According to the Madison Park Blogger, this is the first drowning incident at Madison Park Beach since August 2007, when a man was found floating in the water. A suicide note was later found on the beach.
A ‘stark reminder’
One person who identified himself as “Jvanderjagt” in his comment to a Madison Park Blogger story about the July 10 incident, said that two of the victim’s friends had approached him about needing help to locate Yun.
He explained how he and two other swimmers found Yun about 12 feet below, about 10 feet west of the floating dock.
“I held his head while numerous people tried to revive him. It’s been a bit tough dealing with this, and a stark reminder of how fragile life can be,” Jvanderjagt wrote on July 19.
Joseph, a 28-year-old Madison Valley graduate student, was another of the Samaritans who tried to save Yun. He recalled how one of Yun’s friends, who had limited English-speaking skills, had approached him around 7:30 p.m.
The friend “was probably in shock because he seemed extremely calm…,” Joseph said in a phone interview on July 21. “I thought, ‘Could this be a practical joke?’… I didn’t know how to take that.”
He remembers another swimmer declining to help because “he probably thought [Yun’s friend] was joking.”
“The dock was filled with people,” Joseph elaborated. “Nobody was alarmed by what we were talking about.”
Still, Joseph jumped in and, with the others’ help, located Yun and brought him back to the dock.
“I felt him grab me — I could have sworn [he did],” Joseph said. “But he was not breathing.… I was assured he was [dead]; he had been under for so long.”
While some people on the dock voiced the hopelessness of the situation, the rescuers took turns performing CPR.
Joseph said he stayed on the dock, distraught, for about 10 minutes after Yun had been brought to shore by medical personnel.
He eventually swam back to shore to express his sympathies to Yun’s friend who had asked for his help.
“I didn’t want to go back at first. I didn’t want to go back in, especially right at that spot,” Joseph said.
“I’m feeling a lot of regret [now], even though I helped him. [Maybe] I didn’t help him fast enough,” he said. “I rationalize; I know it’s not my fault, [but] I think I did the right thing wrong.…
“I won’t go back [to Madison Park Beach] this summer. I’m not quite ready for that yet,” he said.[[In-content Ad]]