Search continues for man lost in Big Bear Lake

Published online: Jul 06, 2009 News JUDI BOWERS
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UPDATE, July 5: Searchers suspended operations yesterday about 1 p.m., but resumed the search today at 6 a.m. for a swimmer presumedly drowned in Big Bear Lake.

The 33-year-old Alhambra man was reported missing July 3 from a group of swimmers who had rented a pontoon boat. His name has not been released as yet. Authorities began searching immediately after the man was reported missing, searching until about 7 p.m. Friday. The search was suspended on July 4 due to choppy waters and a large number of boats in the water for the holiday weekend.

Authorities say the man jumped into the water apparently to save another swimmer who was struggling.

This is an update to previous stories. See the the story below.

Authorities are using sonar and a specialized dive team to search for a man who reportedly fell off a pontoon boat July 3 into the water of Big Bear Lake, California.

As of 9:40 a.m., there is still no sign of the victim, according to a report from Scott Heule, general manager of the Big Bear Municpal Water District, which manages Big Bear Lake.

The 33-year-old man, whose name has not been released, was reported to have fallen off a rented pontoon in about 27 feet of water near Big BEar Shores RV Park on the north side of Big Bear Lake. The accident was reported to the MWD at 3:22 p.m. and Lake Patrol arrived at 3:30 p.m. according to Heule. The area was cordoned off and a bouy placed at the location where the victim was last seen.

A San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department resuce diver was in the water by 4:08 p.m. Divers searched for two hours but were unable to locate the victim. The search was recategorized as a recovery at 6 p.m.

At 6 a.m. July 4, the dive team began the search with the sonar equipment, setting up a sonar search grid. Lake Patrol is securing a perimiter around the area for divers to work in. The search will continue throught the day, and authorities are asking boaters to stay clear of the search area to allow the process to continue.

The victim was swimming with other members of his party who had rented a pontoon boat. When the swimmers began struggling, all but the victim got back on the boat. The victim was thrown a seat cushion type flotation device, which he initally grabbed, according to Heule. Another member of the party jumped into the water to aid the victim, but after two attempts the 33-year-old was out of reach.

The MWD staff and board members offered their condolences to the family and frends of the victim.

The July 4 holiday is traditionally a busy one on Big Bear Lake. All boaters are advised to use safety precautions and wear life vests. This is the first fatality on Big Bear Lake since April 2007.

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