The aunt of a 9-year-old boy who drowned in Lake Elsinore on Sunday said the incident was an “unfortunate accident,” but called for some areas of the lake to be fenced off.
Donte Clark, of Palmdale, and other children were playing near the docks on Launch Pointe Beach on the southwest side of the lake, but when they got in the water, they didn’t realize how deep it was.
Two of the children began to struggle to stay afloat. A bystander brought one of the children to shore, but Donte went underwater and never resurfaced, despite the efforts of witnesses who tried to help, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department officials said Sunday.
Authorities started searching for the boy using watercraft and a helicopter. Finally a dive team located and recovered his body around 2:40 p.m.
His great aunt, Dianiana Singletary, told KTLA the outing was supposed to be a day of fun at the lake and an effort to beat the heat.
Donte didn’t know how to swim, however, and wasn’t wearing a life vest at the time, his father told KTLA.
City officials say that the shallow end is anywhere from 4 to 5 feet, but the water drops down to about 10 to 15 feet beyond a white buoy in the lake.
Singletary called for officials to gate off areas where only adults should be.
“Kids have no business by those ramps where the jet skies can go in the water,” Singletary said. “It was a very unfortunate accident but it could have been avoided if that area would have been blocked off.”
Singletary described Donte as a bright boy who loved basketball and took boxing lessons.
She said Donte changed his father’s life when he got custody of his son. The father and son were best friends, she added.
“He fought for his son and now he has to bury him. It’s not right,” Singletary said.