Mathew Jay Albert, 9-years-old, 08-16-97
David Lee Smith, 6-yers-old


By Esther Pan, ADN 08/18/97

Police have identified the second victim of Saturday's drowning in a South Anchorage neighborhood pond as 9-year-old Mathew Jay Albert.

Police found Albert in Back Lake, near Spruce Street and Kay Court, about an hour after neighbors discovered David Lee Smith, 6, in the water.

The two boys drowned after falling off a makeshift raft made of wooden pallets with Styrofoam underneath, said Sgt. Bill Webster of the Anchorage Police Department. Six-year-old Michael Moose, who was playing with the two, went home for his wading boots when Smith and Albert got onto the raft. When Moose came back, he found Smith splashing in the water and Albert gone, Webster said. Moose ran home to get help, and neighbors pulled Smith from the water. Providence Hospital reported that Smith was declared dead at 7:08 p.m.

In the initial confusion, police at first did not know Albert was in the water.

"There were a couple of minutes where we didn't realize we were missing another kid," Webster said. They learned about Albert by questioning Moose, and Anchorage Fire Department divers found Albert's body in about 8 feet of water an hour later. The murky pond water was so clouded that visibility for divers was down to zero, Webster said.

Albert was wearing wading boots, which police believe may have contributed to his drowning. He was declared dead at Providence Medical Center about 8 p.m. on Saturday, Webster said.

Police did not know if either child knew how to swim.

A neighbor who did not wish to be identified knew brown-haired David Smith, a playmate of her children.

"He was a doll," she said. "He was sweet and polite and nice to be around. He was just an adorable child."

"It was a terrible thing to happen," she added. "We don't know why it happened or what to say."