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August 23, 2010 at 4:01 PM

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Lake Stevens rower died after crash with speed boat

Posted by Letters editor

Dave Balbirona was a big proponent of safe rowing

Editor, The Times:

The calamity all rowers dread has happened [“Divers find body of Lake Stevens rower,” NWSaturday, Aug. 21]. A rower, plying his oar in the sport he loved, has been killed. Any rower with any experience on the water knows that in any encounter between a shell and a motorboat, the shell will lose.

The Lake Stevens Rowing Club (LSRC) must be congratulated for taking this threat seriously. For years, the club has trained to respond to water and land emergencies that might occur during practice and competition. This last winter, board members and coaches spent an intense day of training to earn their American Heart Association CPR certifications and practice emergency communications and evacuations, with the dread of just such an incident in mind.

In an ironic twist of fate, David Balbirona was one of the LSRC members at that emergency training. He took very seriously the commitment to make rowing on Lake Stevens safe. In addition to being one of the trained responders, he helped maintain the club equipment, keeping rescue launches response ready. His efforts and his attitude made him a valuable asset in both emergency response and emergency planning.

Unfortunately, emergency training, vigilant coaches and watchful teammates cannot change the trajectory of a speed boat. Sometimes all of our best efforts cannot divert an outcome. That may be little consolation for the widow and family of Dave Balbirona and his rowing family at LSRC, but in their time of loss and sorrow I want to remind them that they (and Dave) tried their best to prevent tragedies like this.

— Sheila Maher, Normandy Park

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