HOUSTON – Friends of a Houston woman who accidentally drowned while swimming in a Clear Lake lagoon are trying to understand what happened.
Stephanie Dominguez said it was supposed to be a fun Saturday evening on a friend’s boat, on the water off Clear Lake. The group had just eaten at a restaurant before getting on the boat. The friends began playfully pushing each other into the water.
Erika Cardenas, 33, was in on the fun, but what happened next, Dominguez said shocked everyone on the boat.
“Her face was just in the water, and all of sudden, she just started going down really fast,” she said. “It’s like someone was pulling her down, but there was no one around her.”
Friends began frantically searching for Cardenas. She went under around 6:30 p.m., but her body didn’t turn up until hours later.
Divers discovered her 18-feet below the surface.
“Terrible, it’s just shocking, I see her more than I see some of my family, so she is kind of like my sister,” said Dominguez.
Cardenas owned SLC Tan, a mobile spray-tanning company. She also worked as a makeup artist and produced fashion shows.
Amir Valinia said he accompanied his girlfriend of five years to Nassau Bay almost every weekend, except the night she died.
“I can’t pinpoint one thing that I’m going to miss about her, different things go through my head, I still think: Is this really happening?” he said. “I want [her] to just knock on the door and come back.”
He said Cardenas used to own a nightclub and was known in the nightlife industry.
Her Facebook page is filled with condolences from family, friends and acquaintances, which doesn’t surprise the people who knew her best.
"No matter where she was, people would stare at her, she is just a beautiful person,” said Dominguez.