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2012-06-21

San Antonio man drowns in lake

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

In what has been deemed as "an unfortunate accident," a San Antonio resident drowned in Medina Lake this past weekend. Preliminary reports indicated that neither drugs nor alcohol were involved in the incident.

At approximately 3 pm, Sunday, June 15, emergency dispatch was notified that a man "had gone into the lake and never came out." Deputies with the Bandera County Sheriff's Department, EMS medical personnel and several volunteer fire departments were dispatched to the scene, as well as game wardens with the Department of Texas Parks and Wildlife.

The Medina Lake VFD was designated primary agency on the rescue with Fire Chief Ben Hicks serving as incident commander. "Using boats and divers, we searched for the body for two to two and a half hours," Hicks said. "Despite the low water conditions, Medina Lake has very low visibility."

After arriving, TPW game wardens used a boat equipped with sonar to locate the man's body. At approximately 6 pm, divers with the Pipe Creek VFD recovered the body in 10 to 15 feet of water. The deceased's name was not released by press time.

According to reports, the young man, who was reportedly in his early 20s, was picnicking with relatives and friends and his fiancée at Elm Cove, which is purportedly owned by the Pebble Beach Homeowners Association.

Hicks said the Elm Cove is located between Pebble Beach and Lakehills.

Describing the victim as "a strong swimmer," a reliable source said the young man had been accepted to a police academy in San Antonio.

However, a BCSO spokesman was unable to verify this.

The deceased's family and fiancée were nearby when the fatal accident occurred. According to Chief Deputy Richard Smith, the man had apparently gone into the water to retrieve a raft or tube that had blown away.

"The young man was standing on the bank with a 9-year-old member of the party, when he jumped into the lake to retrieve a tube that was drifting away," Smith said. "He swam out to the tube and the child heard the man scream for help. The child then ran to get the other members of the party. By the time everyone got back to the bank, the man had apparently slipped under the water."

Speaking about the fatal accident, Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris offered some cautionary advice.

"In windy conditions, it's almost impossible to catch anything blowing across the water, whether it's a raft or tube or whatever. Those flotation devices move across on top of the water faster than you can swim. Swimmers get exhausted before they even know it."

He recalled a previous incident at Canyon Lake involving personnel from Lackland Air Force Base. The airmen attempted to catch a boat that had gotten away from them. "They both drowned," Harris said.

"If a raft gets away from you on Medina Lake, just let it go. It'll eventually end up on the other side of the cove and you can just walk around and get it," Harris said, adding, "That's my advice for the day about water safety."