Rescue workers advise water safety after 2 died in Lake Yosemite

July 4, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Two people drown while out for a swim on the Fourth of July. Rescuers are preparing for a long and busy extended weekend.

The Merced County Sheriff says two men are dead after diving into a restricted area of Lake Yosemite. Rescue workers are pushing their warning for water safety as we continue to endure these hot summer temperatures.

Right from the railing on a pier at Lake Yosemite is where Sheriff Mark Pazin says two men made a deadly decision. 17-year-old Vincent Flores says he heard the screams for help.

"Everybody was panicking," Flores said. "The family was yelling 'no body's helping out.' I just jumped in."

The Sheriff tells Action News a man in his 40's and another man in his 20's ignored signs warning of the 'no diving' zone.

"Unfortunately, there was the struggle in the water while they were trying to catch their breath and they both went down to the bottom of the lake," Pazin said.

The water reopened to swimmers, within the buoys, a short time after the two men's bodies were recovered.

"It sucks that I went out there and I couldn't do anything," Flores said.

A better outcome near Reedley earlier in the day. Cal Fire and Fresno County Sheriff's deputies rescued two men when their raft became entangled in brush along the edges of the Kings River.

Anthony Morales says he's been rafting the Kings River for 17 years. He, like many others familiar with the water, knows what to watch for in the water. And first responders say even the most seasoned swimmers and rafters can run into dangers.

"Please, be careful in the water," Pazin urged. "It could be 2 inches, 2 feet, 20 feet, it's still dangerous.

"You get that one gulp of water in your system and it just starts to drop you like a rock. You can't catch your breath and you panic. And this is what happened."

The two men rescued on the Kings River admitted they had been drinking. Deputies say that played a role in what happened there. As for the two men who died in the north valley they have not been identified. And at this point it's unclear whether alcohol played a role in that incident.


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