18-year-old drowns at Kenai park

An 18-year-old Kenai Peninsula resident drowned Saturday at the pond near Walmart. 

Kenai Fire Department officials retrieved Robert J. Johnson from the small pond at Daubenspeck Family Park in Kenai. Responders transported Johnson to Central Peninsula Hospital, where he was declared dead. 

At 6:15 p.m., the Kenai Police Department received a call about a male who had been underwater for more than five minutes, said KPD Sgt. Scott McBride. 

Kenai-based officers and firefighters responded to the scene. Witnesses reported seeing Johnson jump into the pond from an old wooden structure located on its banks, and they heard Johnson calling for help several minutes later. A witness had attempted to help the victim, but the cold water caused cramping and limited their rescue efforts, McBride said. 

Firefighters entered the pond and found Johnson; he was wearing swimming attire. KPD suspects the cold water as a primary factor of the drowning. 

McBride urges residents to remain cautious when swimming, as Alaska waters are generally frigid. Life jackets are available at the park, as well. 

Flowers rested on a green picnic table Sunday evening at the bank of the pond.

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