The busy kickoff to summer took a tragic turn on Monday when a 15-year-old boy drowned at Lake Manawa in Council Bluffs.
The teen, who has not been identified yet, reportedly rolled off of his inner tube into the lake and was not wearing a life vest. Witnesses reported seeing the boy fall into the water right before 1 pm. According to Council Bluffs Assistant Fire Chief Derrick Williams, emergency crews were summoned at 1:18 pm. Despite a large rescue effort involving multiple rescue boats and a drone, the teen was not found alive. Rescue workers pulled the teen’s lifeless body from the lake at 3:18 pm.
The shores of the lake were a grim scene as parishioners from St. Joseph Catholic Church had gathered to pray for a miracle. According to Maria Ramirez, members of the church were summoned to the scene during the search and were told that there was still hope that the boy would be found alive. Even after the boy’s body was pulled from the lake, many people stayed behind to continue to pray for comfort. Ramirez said that the group had quickly mobilized texting and calling as many people as they could to join the prayer effort. What began as a prayer for safe rescue ended as a vigil, even after the boy had been taken away.
Not a lot of information about the accident is known at this time. The teen had been visiting Lake Manawa State Park with two of his siblings when the accident occurred, but it was not known if he could swim or if he had been swimming within the designated swim area or if had gone to the restricted section. Williams cited a language barrier as the rescuers attempted to obtain more information.