The two teens entered the water just a few feet from a life jacket station. Sadly, neither saw the need for a life jacket on a seemingly calm lake.

As KOMO News reports, a group of teenagers was at Twin Lakes County Park in Marysville, Washington, when two of the young men decided to swim across the lake. Though loaner life jackets are available for free from stations around the lake, the boys decided not to use them.

Screenshot/KOMO News

It wasn’t until one of the boys had made his way across that he realized his friend wasn’t with him. Unable to rescue his friend on his own, the teen called for help.

Lt. David Bowman of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office told Q13 News that their first efforts were focused on rescuing and resuscitating the missing teen while there was still time:

“Our first arriving diver deployed in what we call a ‘hasty search’ where they go and abandon some of their safety protocols–they don’t wait for another diver to be on standby.”

Sadly, when rescuers found the missing 16-year-old, it was too late. After getting tangled in weeds and debris, he had drowned in only six feet of water.

Bowman explained to KOMO that the calm surface of the lake is misleading:

“A lake such as this — it looks pristine, it looks like calm, beautiful water — but it actually has a large amount of debris in it. The corner of the lake where the teens were swimming does have some logs in it and debris. Additionally, there’s a lot of noxious weeds that grow in it, and that can encumber a swimmer.”

In a statement to Q13 News, the Sheriff’s Office stressed the importance of using a life jacket, even when conditions don’t appear very risky:

The teens had entered the water just feet from a loaner life jacket station. The Sheriff’s Office wants the public to remember that even seemingly peaceful waters can be treacherous under the best of conditions. We always recommend wearing life jackets when swimming in uncontrolled waters.

Others visiting the lake spoke about the tragedy and how it could have been avoided. Dale Subera, who often visits Twin Lakes Park, told Q13:

“They get to be teenagers. It’s their decision, I suppose. It’s unfortunate, you know. I feel for his family.”

Watch the video via KOMO News below.

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