SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (CBS13/AP) — A woman drowned after falling off a boat carrying six children on Lake Tahoe and a man who jumped off the boat to try to rescue her had to be hospitalized for severe hypothermia on Friday evening, according to the United States Coast Guard – Lake Tahoe Station.
“The initial report was that there were two people in the water in the vicinity of Pope Beach,” Petty Officer Isaiah O’Brien, U.S. Coast Guard – Lake Tahoe Station, said.
Petty Officer O’Brien said that the woman fell into the water and that the man, who was wearing a life jacket, jumped in after her to get back on board.
After the woman and the man went into the water, the boat with the children still aboard drifted into the middle of the lake where a fire district boat crew rescued the children, who were unhurt, the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District said in a statement.
The Coast Guard stated that it began to search for the two adults. During this time, the Tahoe Douglas crews found the man who was taken to emergency medical services.
Rescue personnel were unable to revive the woman after she was found in the water.
“It’s definitely something that you can’t recreate unless you experience it. There are no real words to paint the picture,” O’Brien said.
The Nevada agency’s personnel responded to the scene after receiving a 911 call believed to be made by someone who heard the children yelling for help, Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District Fire Marshal Eric Guevin said.
Several miles away, crews had rescued the man, who had been in the water for over an hour, and transported him to Barton Hospital for severe hypothermia, according to reports. He was listed Friday night in critical condition, officials said.
O’Brien said that the boat was a rented Cobalt from the Sierra Boat Company in North Lake Tahoe.
Guevin and O’Brien told CBS13 that the woman was the mother of some of the children, part of a blended family with the man.
Authorities did not immediately know the relationships between the people involved and the ages of the children.
It’s a situation that shocked some people on the shores of Pope Beach.
“Of course, I’m scared. It’s really scary,” Anastasiia Vergas, said.
“My heart breaks for the husband, the kids, and the rest of the family,” Nancy Thomason said.
Petty Officer O’Brien told CBS13 this is the fourth recovery the Lake Tahoe Station has been called out since the start of summer.
This tragic situation is also a reminder of the importance of safety on the water.
“We encourage everyone to wear a life jacket when you come to Lake Tahoe. Coldwater shock is a very real thing,” O’Brien said.
“As we’ve seen in the last six months, it can really be a detrimental thing.”
O’Brien told CBS13 that the children told him they were from California but, didn’t say where they were from.
Authorities have not yet released the name of the woman who died.