The Grant County Sheriff's Office says the death of an 18-year-old man is being called an accidental drowning.

Thursday evening Deputies and Emergency Workers were called to an area about four miles south of Ephrata, where some young men had been swimming in a main feeder irrigation canal.

Deputies didn't specify the exact location, but maps do show a large canal south of town. Jesus Contreras was with some friends swimming in the canal when he slipped under the water around 6PM. Sheriff Tom Jones says his friends lost sight of him, and he could not be located.

Sadly, a Grant County Sheriff's aerial drone that was dispatched to help in the search located his body about 100 yards downstream about an hour after he had disappeared.

Grant County Fire Districts 5 and 13, AMR Grant County, Ephrata Police and Moses Lake Firefighters all responded to the emergency call and assisted with the search.

An autopsy is scheduled for Saturday, but the Grant County Coroner is considering this an accidental drowning.

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It is not known of Contreras was a skilled swimmer, but it does reinforce what we hear from officials every summer. Do not swim in or around irrigation canals, regardless of size.

This especially applies to larger feeder canals, which can be several dozen feet across, deeper than most people's height, and the water moves a lot faster than most people realize.

Plus, many of these larger canals have various types of sloping concrete sites, which are a lot slippier than one would think, and there's nothing to grab onto and pull yourself out if you are swept away.

The same goes for smaller canals we see snaking across the area, the water may look 'calm' but it's moving fast underneath.


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