Donner Drowning Update

By: Alana Adams
By: Alana Adams

It's the second drowning of a teenager in the Truckee area in as many months and the second rescue effort just in this lake Saturday afternoon."
Lt. Dan Johnston, with the Truckee police, says a group of seven family members from the Sacramento, California area just wanted to cool off in the heat by spending time boating at Donner Lake.
But, he says, lack of boating experience and no life jackets only added to a dangerous situation when the 15-year old's hat flew off into the water.
"His 23-year old cousin jumped in after him, tried to save him... but, got into a little bit of a struggle with him because the 15-year old was going under. The 15-year old did go under... not to come back up."
Divers went in Saturday, and continued again early Sunday morning... but, the extreme depth of the lake where the teenager initially went down is not helping in the search.
"Donner lake is a natural lake. It's very deep. It's cold. Where the boy went down, we think it's about 180-feet of water. And when it's that deep and that cold, there's doubt he's ever going to come back up."
Officer Russ Walsh went in the frigid water Saturday, but he says it's not a lake divers want to explore.
"It's really dangerous and where we were diving, it was 170-feet of water. Our limit for our divers is 80-to-90 feet.... diving there was no reference points. That's why we have the cameras because the divers can go all the way down."
The visibility is only about 25-feet near the surface and it only decreases the farther you go down.... making the search difficult and the waters more dangerous than most would expect.
Later in the evening, one crew from Placer Co. Search and Rescue set off with a loaned underwater controlled vehicle to see what they could find.
Lt. Johnston says this is different from the other cameras because it's remote controlled and can be steered from above the water.
"What this camera does is it has the ability to go underwater and be controlled on top... doesn't respond to the movement of the water."
Police say they can sympathize with a family's need to recover the teenager, but at this point they say if they don't find him by Wednesday, they might have to call of the search.
Officers say life vests can really make a difference when another swimmer or boater is struggling in the water.
They say you should first attempt to throw a flotation device before getting in yourself.


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