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Second drowning at Medina Lake

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Just a week into the summer season, Medina Lake has claimed another drowning victim.

Divers with the Pipe Creek Volunteer Fire Department recovered the body of Alberto Vielma of San Antonio at approximately 12:30 pm, Saturday, June 23, after a 40-minute search, preliminary reports stated. Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Lynn Holt pronounced the man dead at the scene, according to Capt. Charlie Hicks of the Bandera County Sheriff's Office.

According to reports, after members of the Medina Lake Volunteer Fire Department discovered Vielma's body, Chief Ben Hicks called divers from the Pipe Creek VFD to aid the recovery effort. Brandon Lee serves as chief of the Pipe Creek VFD.

Three rescue divers recovered the body, assisted by two other first responders manning a pontoon. Doug Franks, a firefighter with the Medina Lake VFD, was apparently first on the scene.

In addition to the county VFDs, EMS units and deputies with the Bandera County Sheriff's Department also reported to the scene. Most of the rescue efforts were centered at the James Anderson Memorial Park, a private park owned by the San Antonio Police Department. According to Hicks, Vielma was attempting to swim across the cove when he was reported "in distress."

Vielma's body was estimated to have been recovered from 12 to 25 feet away from the shore of the private park in approximately 12 to 14 feet of water.

Details surrounding the accident still remain sketchy. However early reports stated that the 36-year-old man had drowned when he and three friends - two females and a male - had attempted to swim from the Bandera County Park across the cove to the James Anderson Memorial Park.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris arrived at the scene of the accident shortly after emergency dispatch received the 9-1-1 call at 11:25 am.

According to Harris, all people who arrive at the county park are given a hard copy of rules that state it is illegal to swim across the cove because the park is private property.

"We also warn them verbally, but sometimes it makes no difference," Harris said.

The latest accident occurred two or three coves away from last week's drowning of Michael Martinez, 22, of San Antonio. On Sunday, June 17, Martinez drowned after attempting to retrieve a raft that had blown away across the waters. This accident took place in Elm Cove in Pebble Beach.

At the time of the latest accident, approximately 30 to 40 cars were in the county park, Harris said, adding, "It appears there were lots of witnesses."

Describing the situation over a cell phone, one woman was overheard to say, "He went down and he didn't come up."

Harris said last year three people who attempted to swim across the cove from the county park had nearly drowned. "You have got to respect the water," he said, adding, "and if you don't, you'll get in trouble."