SF boy identified as Lake Sonoma drowning victim

A boy who drowned after falling off a flotation device at Lake Sonoma on Saturday afternoon was 14-year-old Marquette Gross of San Francisco, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official said Tuesday.

Gross and a younger boy who is 12 or 13, were in separate inner tube-like devices around 4 p.m. Saturday when winds caused them to drift away from the marina and about halfway to the opposite shore of the lake just west of the dam, according to Michael Dillabough, chief of the Operations and Readiness Division of the San Francisco District of the Army Corps of Engineers.

A 13-year-old boy operating a jet ski nearby offered to tow the boys with a rope about 200 feet back to the marina shore, Dillabough said.

During the towing, both boys became separated from their flotation devices. Gross apparently panicked and grabbed onto the younger boy’s neck and eventually slipped under the water, Dillabough said.

The younger boy either managed to swim or hang onto the jet ski to get to the shore, Dillabough said.

Dive teams from Sonoma, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda counties responded and searched the lake Saturday and Sunday until dark. Gross’ body was found around 2:25 p.m. Monday.

Dillabough said the topography under the water where Gross was found consists of very steep canyon walls where the water can be 150 feet deep.

He said he is not aware of any disciplinary action that might be taken against the parents of the 13-year-old boy who operated the jet ski alone. State law requires a lone operator to be at least 16, Dillabough said.