Stillwater teen drowns in St. Croix River while helping save friend

Seventeen-year-old recovered by rescuers after about 40 minutes in the water.




2 minute read

Lake St. Croix Beach (Kate Seitz/St. Croix 360)

A 17-year-old died in Lake St. Croix Beach last Thursday, May 12, as he helped a friend who was struggling in the water. The sheriff’s office later identified him as Suleiman Ibrahim Abda Garado, a junior at Stillwater Area High School.

Several young people were gathered by the river when the drowning occurred. Several witnesses called 911. The incident was first reported at 5:40 p.m., with the county’s dive team responding quickly. They found the boy after he had been in the water for about 40 minutes. First responders performed lifesaving procedures and then transported him to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, where he died.

“The death of this young man is a devastating tragedy, and I extend my deepest condolences to his family and loved ones,” said Sheriff Dan Starry in a statement. “I’m grateful for the quick response of the Washington County rescue dive team and their ability to recover Suleiman and bring peace to his family.”

The American Red Cross offers guidance on swimming safety in lakes and rivers. According to the group, 10 people die every day from unintentional drowning, and on average, two of them are under age 14. The American Academy of Pediatrics says in 2017, drowning claimed the lives of almost 1,000 kids younger than 20 years in the United States.

Here are the Red Cross’s tips for what to do in an emergency:

  1. If a child is missing, check the water first: seconds count in preventing death or disability!
  2. Alert the lifeguard, if one is present.
  3. Recognize the signs of someone in trouble and shout for help. A swimmer needs immediate help if they:
    •  Are not making forward progress in the water.
    • Are vertical in the water but unable to move or tread water.
    • Are motionless and face down in the water.
  4. Rescue and remove the person from the water (without putting yourself in danger). 
  5. Ask someone to call emergency medical services (EMS). If alone, give 2 minutes of care, then call EMS. 
  6. Begin rescue breathing and CPR. 
  7. Use an AED if available and transfer care to advanced life support. 

More information:


3 responses to “Stillwater teen drowns in St. Croix River while helping save friend”

  1. Brian Dixon Avatar
    Brian Dixon

    Why isn’t this person a hero? We throw this around for people who are doing what they are paid to do! If it was a white person, he’d be a hero!

    1. Ole Oleson Avatar
      Ole Oleson

      A child downed. No need to be a bigot because you don’t like the wording of an article.

    2. mac anderson Avatar
      mac anderson

      as a personal friend of the boy who drowned u find your comment ignorant and insensitive, he did a hero giving his life for someone else.


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Stillwater teen drowns in St. Croix River while helping save friend