By Lemor Abrams

POLLOCK PINES (CBS13) — “It’s hard to understand how something like that could happen,” said Tom Kerns who lives nearby.

Neighbors can’t believe it.

Investigators say 34-year-old Tory Mayes of Pollock Pines plunged into a two-mile, four-foot pipe. Search and rescue crews extracted his body early Tuesday morning.

They say Mayes got trapped in a pipe that runs underneath Jenkinson Lake, near Sky Park Recreation Center. The pipe sends water to a gated treatment facility behind the lake.

Irrigation officials say how he got in, remains a mystery.

“It’s a tragedy. Can you just fall into a water pipe like that? No, you cannot. The area where we think he entered, he would have had to go into that pipe,” said El Dorado Irrigation District Spokesman Jessie Saich.

The victim’s family reportedly says he’s a careful outdoorsman who would be unlikely to fall to his death.

As investigators find out exactly what happened, El Dorado County remains under an unprecedented water emergency. Irrigation officials were forced to lower water flows and issue a warning to residents: don’t use water unless it’s absolutely necessary.

“It’s in an effort to aid the extraction process to recover the body,” said Saich.

For now, they assure this small town, the water is safe to drink. But the water seems to be the least of their worries.

“I feel bad for the family it’s got to be a horrible death going two miles through a dark tunnel to your death,” said Kerns.

The water conservation warning expired at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

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