West Seattle resident Arden Balyeat dies saving son from river

You may have heard about this tragedy in regional media – a 48-year-old woman and her 7-year-old son were pulled from the Skykomish River yesterday; he survived, but she died at a Snohomish County hospital. Thanks to information that started with a note from a friend, we have learned the woman was from West Seattle: Arden Balyeat. As friend Cori Myka explained on Ms. Balyeat’s Facebook wall, she and her son “were crossing a river when he got pulled in an eddy. She rescued him, but was not able to save herself.” Friends are planning a wake this Saturday afternoon, likely at her home, though Cori told us the venue may change, and suggested watching this Facebook page (from which the photo at left was taken) for details; they also are working to set up a fund for Ms. Balyeat’s son. ADDED WEDNESDAY MORNING: This Everett article has a few more details on what authorities believe happened.

43 Replies to "West Seattle resident Arden Balyeat dies saving son from river"

  • 37Ray July 28, 2009 (10:43 pm)

    It is what any real parent would do in a heartbeat to save their child. Bless you “mom” you saved him


  • so sad July 28, 2009 (11:10 pm)

    As a mom this breaks my heart. Sincere condolences for the incredible loss.

  • ellenater July 28, 2009 (11:22 pm)

    So sad! What an incredible mom. My heart goes out to family and friends. :(

    (note to Traci: those FB links don’t work. You have to be a friend…)

  • Scott Bullene July 28, 2009 (11:27 pm)

    Job well done Arden~You are a hero….. You will be missed at Pioneer coffee.
    Condolences to your family and friends.

  • WSB July 28, 2009 (11:30 pm)

    Actually I wasn’t a friend – they worked for me and therefore should work for anybody who is on FB if you’re signed in (and by my calculations possibly the entire world has joined by now) – the current location is a residential address and I didn’t want to just publish that outright, but will if it doesn’t change. – TR

  • RShannon July 28, 2009 (11:54 pm)

    Such a terrible tragedy.

    For me, it brings to mind all the many water related accidents that may be prevented (not that this was; I was not there and don’t know the details and mean only to share my thoughts with others); it is a reminder of how important it is to educate yourself, friends and loved ones of water safety.

    Every year people lose loved ones to water related accidents. Boating or watercraft related accidents seem to be common in our region, but swimmers and even hikers walking along river banks are at risk too; I almost lost a sibling in a river accident – he was hiking and walking on a log that looked ‘safe’ to cross a river, he slipped and and fell into the river & nearly drowned.

    If you aren’t familiar with boating, water sports, or body of water, or dangers in the natural surroundings where water bodies are present, please take a class, have a guide or educate yourself about the water safety and dangers.

    My thoughts and prayers to Mrs. Balyeat’s family during this difficult time.

  • CrazyDogLady July 29, 2009 (12:02 am)

    so sorry to hear this. RIP

  • Forest July 29, 2009 (1:43 am)

    She’ll be greatly mourned by her fellow members of the PTA at Gatewood Elementary.

  • Bonnie July 29, 2009 (6:56 am)

    Such a sad tragedy. She is a hero Mom.

  • coffee July 29, 2009 (6:59 am)

    I just had the nicest visit with her at my coffee shop on Monday as she was waiting on her car to be repaired!

  • pnelson July 29, 2009 (7:15 am)

    Such a heartbreaking story. My condolences to her family and friends. Rest in peace

  • in shock July 29, 2009 (7:31 am)

    I’ve known Arden since she was pregnant with Lucas and was with her throughout his early medical challenges. She has saved his life not once but twice. If any mother would sacrifice herself for her son I would expect it to be Arden. To her family, my life is better for having known her. She was a fierce and independent woman and mother and friend.

  • Margie July 29, 2009 (7:48 am)

    She was a nice person and a very dedicated mother. I am sure that she will be missed by all that knew her. I will miss my morning talks with her at the bus stop. My condolences to her family.

  • Michelle July 29, 2009 (8:22 am)

    I will miss Arden’s smile, warmth, and caring nature. My heart and prayers go out to Lucas and Arden’s family.

  • que July 29, 2009 (8:31 am)

    She fought so fiercely for her son. She was a wonderful mother. We will miss her very much.

  • brandon July 29, 2009 (8:37 am)

    A tragedy with the ultimate sacrifice that any parent would do for their child. Our condolences to the family.

  • Mema July 29, 2009 (9:49 am)

    These first days are numbing, but gradually the shock will wear off. Please don’t forget this little family in the days to come. The first year is so very difficult. I beg each of you to pray for them, to be there when they need you, and to help without their asking. Jeff and Lucas will form a very close bonding; friends, just be there for them. May God bless you all and help you as you search for understanding. With love, Mema

  • miws July 29, 2009 (10:17 am)

    How incredibly sad…


    Condolences to all that knew and loved Arden.



  • Jennie July 29, 2009 (10:27 am)

    I knew of Arden through my friend and her sister, Joy, who loved her so very much. I can’t imagine the excruciating pain of losing someone whose roots and heart strings are so intertwined. You are so lucky to have known and be known, so fortunate to have shared little girl giggles and womanly advice. I pray the heaviness of your heart and the bewilderment is replaced by the peace that surpasses understanding. I pray the memories that bring tears will soon bring a smile. May you feel the warm embrace of feathered wings.

  • monroe1200 July 29, 2009 (11:06 am)


  • John July 29, 2009 (12:06 pm)

    Too sad for words. I’m so glad her son survived. As a parent there can be nothing worse than losing a child. Somewhere she’s smiling that he survived.

  • Cheryl July 29, 2009 (12:27 pm)

    My cousin died at age 33 rescuing her daughter from a rip tide in Orange County CA (I was 17 or 18 when this happened). Her other 4 children were on the beach watching this horror unfold. She saved her daughter, but drown doing so.

    I can tell you that her kids, especially the daughter she saved, NEVER got over it.

    I wish much, much, much peace for Arden’s family — most especially her son.

  • laurieg July 29, 2009 (5:25 pm)

    my life is blessed having known Arden. She was the most amazing woman and mother I have ever known. Her energy could be felt the minute she walked into a room!

  • JimboMeathooks July 29, 2009 (7:06 pm)

    Mom……….thats all i have to say.

  • Margaret July 29, 2009 (9:56 pm)

    Arden, your cheerful and outgoing spirit will be sorely missed! John has it right. I am sure you are smiling somewhere because Lucas is safe.

    Go with God, my friend.

  • Cori Myka July 29, 2009 (11:52 pm)

    Thank you all for your comments. We will be putting together a book of memories for Lucas. If I can print your well wishes and add them I will. She was a remarkable woman. It is so terriable to use the past tense. We are now planning on having the first part of her memorial at a local church in West Settle 4pm, then have an open house at her home that Jeff want all to come an celebrate her.

    My heart is broken

  • Tonya July 30, 2009 (9:52 pm)

    So saddened to hear this. I met Arden a few times via Cori & remember the 2nd time we met. She was so happy to see me again & gave me the best hug. Prayers for all.

  • peter1589 July 30, 2009 (11:21 pm)

    This is terrible. Where was the father??

  • jennyhawaii July 31, 2009 (9:35 am)

    I knew her since the sixth grade. I can’t believe she’s gone. She was an angel unaware while here on earth, and now . . .

  • familymember July 31, 2009 (10:47 am)

    Do you really think your comment offers comfort to the family? What difference does it make where the father was? If he were there, little Lucas may have lost both of his parents. But thank you for your concern.

  • Darcey July 31, 2009 (11:57 am)

    I met Arden thru Northwest Enterprising Moms. I didn’t know her very well, but what I do know is that she was very friendly, outgoing, organized & energetic. I am so happy she was able to save Lucas, so sad she lost her own life. She will be missed. I wish strength to the surviving family.

  • Jeff Cameron August 1, 2009 (12:59 am)

    I don’t know what to say because I really can’t believe it. I don’t want to focus on water safety, parental location…none of that. Because its not important, and IT NEVER WAS.
    I want to know how do you replace a daughter, a sister, a mom, an aunt, a friend (to me), and a collegu? How do you replace a spirit in a world where it is soo desperately needed?
    RIP Arden

  • glenda August 1, 2009 (9:37 am)

    Jeff, remember me, I worked for your grandmother, Peg………I’m so sorry to hear about Arden, she was a wonderful mother, and she was only doing what came naturally, protecting her child…my thoughts are with you all………….

  • Robert Hallman August 1, 2009 (11:02 am)

    An Angel on Earth, I am speechless, Arden I Loved you and am so thankful to have known you. She was such a wonderful, special person, so full of love and wisdom. My thoughts and prayers go out and will continue forever for Lucas and Jeff. Life is so very strange and hard to understand when we loose someone as special as Arden was, it just doesn’t make sense. She was such a great friend to my sister Perry, our father Van, my children Hailey and Will, we are so thankful & blessed to have known her. Thank you Arden for your presence and friendship in my life, I appreciate every second that I was blessed with you. I hope and pray so much for Lucas and that some how he will be able to grow up and share the love with others that Arden had for people and this Earth we live on. Jeff my thoughts and prayers are with you and Lucas and I pray that you are given the strength and wisdom to carry on and raise Lucas to be the most wonderful person that both you and Arden were and are. Peace and Love be with you, Lucas and my sweet, wonderful, loving Arden. Robert H

  • Kris August 1, 2009 (11:26 am)

    As a Social Worker, I have worked with hundreds of families, families whose child has exceptional, medical or disability needs. I have watched mothers give their hearts, souls and lifetimes to their children. To date I have not personally known a mom to give that last full measure of devotion.
    I would believe, that in those desperate moments in the river, Arden went beyond maternal instinct of trying to save her child. That she would have knowingly made a choice. I honor her.

  • Nancy Sinclair August 1, 2009 (7:09 pm)

    Jeff, I’m so sorry to hear of your lose. You always said that Arden was the best mother in the whole world and you were so right. Take care and my heart goes out to you and your son.
    Nancy, Your Beach Dr. bus ride friend.

  • Mrs.Q August 1, 2009 (9:03 pm)

    RIP Arden, I prayed that you would make it but only God knows why he took you so soon. Good job in saving your son. My heart goes out to All friends and family.

  • Sue Heaps August 2, 2009 (2:42 pm)

    I am in shock…just saw Arden’s obituary in the Times this morning. I know Arden’s Mom, Pat, and met Arden a few times over the years and felt I knew her through the proud stories told by her loving mother, Patricia. My heart goes out to Patricia, and the entire family…there are no words. RIP Arden.
    Sue Heaps

  • Jody Lease August 3, 2009 (10:17 am)

    Also in shock after Sunday’s obit. My thoughts and prayers go out to both Lucas and Jeff. Arden was an amazing mother. Please let me know if I can do anything, even if it’s just to listen.


  • Kim Baruffi August 9, 2009 (6:17 pm)

    I just returned from a trip and am totally shocked and saddened. I just met Arden recently through the WBO and adored her immediately. She was such a ray of sunshine, and I was looking forward to starting a friendship with her.

    Jeff and Lucas, my heart and prayers go out to you, I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. Arden sacrificed herself for Lucas’ life and I am sure she would never take back what she did in that instant – she talked with such love about you both in just the short time I knew her.

    RIP Arden, we loved you and will never forget you!


  • Ilya Balyeat August 9, 2009 (11:35 pm)

    Thank you all for your comments, it means a lot to read how many people my sister touched. I was so blessed to get to spend the last week with her. She was happier than I had seen her and seemed to be in a really great place.

    If any of you know where I could find Jody Deranleau I would very much like to let her know.

  • Dusty Alana & Amber August 11, 2009 (7:02 pm)

    Although we never met Arden in person – my little ladies and I are friends of Lucas and Jeff – we heard nothing but glowing praise of her attributes as an incredible Mother and Friend. We are so very saddened by her loss and the pain her family now is carrying. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. She made the ultimate scarifice out of the purest love…

    With love and the deepest sorrow,

  • Leann Huff Curry August 17, 2009 (2:51 pm)

    I saw last night that my bank was offering a discount for shopping at a company named Arden B.
    I wondered if it was Arden’s company and did an internet search today and learned the news.
    Arden and I were friends in first grade, later I was friends with Ilya. Pat saved me from being a klepto when I was in 8th grade, and then I married Laurel’s x-boyfriend (he too will be sad to hear what’s happened)
    I will light a candle Arden and family

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