35-year-old man drowns in Lake Kaweah

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A 35-year-old man from Springville has drowned in Lake Kaweah, Tulare County deputies say.

Search and rescue crews found his body after searching for nearly two hours on Wednesday afternoon.

"Everyone was swimming enjoying the day on the back of the boat and the individual, or victim, was not wearing a life jacket," said Commander Kevin Kemmerling of the TCSO Swift Water Dive Rescue. "Seems like the boat was drifting a little bit in the wind, which is common for this area."

Kemmerling said it was around noon on Wednesday when Joshua Leever was swimming in water 12 ft deep, about 25 feet off the shore.

"Witnesses say they thought it looked like he kind of dove underwater but unfortunately, I think that he was gasping for air and he ended up drowning," said Kemmerling.

He said not wearing a life jacket is the common mistake made all too often in tragedies like this.

"They can see the shore right there, they may not know how deep it is but I think they can judge it's not very deep," said Kemmerling. "They are not in the middle of the lake and they throw caution to the wind a little bit."

The Swift Water Dive Rescue team used Sidescan Sonar technology to locate the man, which creates a visual image of what's going on underwater.

"It produces soundwaves that are pulsed through the water and whenever they hit a hard object, they return back to the sensor," said Kemmerling.

It's the same unique tech TCSO used to assist with the recovery of actress Naya Rivera from Lake Piru last month.

RELATED: Tulare County Sheriff's Office playing key role in search for 'Glee' actress Naya Rivera

His message to those headed out to the water over the hot weekend: take more precautions than you think you need.

"Just because you are great in the swimming pool doesn't mean necessarily that you can come out into what we call open water in the lake and not have the correct protective equipment," said Kemmerling.

Signs posted at the recreation area remind people to wear a life jacket. This summer, there's a new safety reminder: keep a social distance.

Fresno County Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra says the risk for COVID exists outdoors too.

"That's when the disease spreads itself is these unregulated gatherings," said Dr. Vohra. "Out at the lake or in our natural environments, those are key areas where we all have to be mindful."
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