Bay Area man falls off tube, drowns in Lake Tahoe

TAHOMA, Calif. — A Bay Area man drowned recently near Lake Tahoe’s West Shore after falling out of a tube that was being pulled behind a rental pontoon boat, authorities said.

Placer County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Mike Powers, of the Tahoe Substation, told the Sierra Sun that Siosisa Vaitohi, 32, of San Mateo, was not wearing a life vest on Saturday, June 11, when he fell out of an inflatable tube and family members on the rental boat could not get him back on board.

“The family had rented a pontoon boat and wasn’t going very fast when the deceased fell off his tube,” Powers said. “He was a very large man, 5-feet-11 and 395 pounds, and they could not get him back on the boat.”

Powers said that the office was told Vaitohi could not fit into a life vest, though he said there was a XXXL vest on board but added that it was unknown if it would fit.

After about 20 minutes in the water, a part time Tahoma homeowner, Rick Millitello, who was cruising on the lake said he drove over to see what was happening.

“People on a pontoon boat were asking for assistance,” Millitello said. “They were trying to hold his head above water when we drove up because they couldn’t get him on board. We got him on our boat and took turns trying CPR until the Sheriff’s Office and Coast Guard arrived. People really need to be aware of the dangers of Lake Tahoe.”

Powers said, “The real lesson from this is we emphasize water safety and many of these incidents can be avoided.”

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