Increased focus on safety at Millerton Lake after near drowning

MILLERTON LAKE, Calif. (KFSN) -- An increased focus on safety at Millerton Lake this Memorial Day after lifeguards pulled a teenager from the water Sunday. Rangers tell us the girl is still in intensive care tonight at Valley Children's Hospital.

Hundreds of people have been out here enjoying the lake and if you look out there right now, you'll see a lot of them wearing life vests. Just last week, it wasn't nearly as easy to stay safe in the water.

The relative calm of Millerton Lake's waters were disrupted drastically Sunday when a teenager went under. Photos from ABC30 insiders show the rescue effort as lifeguards raced to pull the girl to shore.
But the rescuers didn't react right away. The girl's family was just around a bend at McKenzie Point -- a blind spot for lifeguards.

Millerton Lake Park Ranger Sgt. Mark DeLeon said, "It's very difficult to see areas of the lake because you have small coves around corners where you don't have very good visual on people."

On Memorial Day, many of the same lifeguards kept watch over the sandy shores. As hamburgers grilled and fishing poles cast, the guards handed out dozens of life jackets. The park's life vest program actually started this weekend and a lot of people took full advantage. Like Chris Starks, who made sure his family's eight kids all suited up to survive.

Starks said, "Sometimes we take it for granted that our children can swim, but I'd rather be safe than sorry and if something was to happen to one of my babies, woo, I don't know what I'd do."

And only a couple families ventured around the same bend where the girl was nearly lost.
Some of the kids wore life vests. Some didn't. But parents were well aware that they needed to be on alert.

Juana Rodriguez said, "I know the lifeguard came by and warned us 'we can't see you and make sure you're keeping an eye on your kids."

Part of the problem out here is that it's an open body of water. It can be two feet deep in one location and then a couple feet away, it dips down to ten feet. That's what happened to the girl yesterday.

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