Donner Lake drowning victim identified
January 28, 2007
Divers on Saturday recovered the body of a 50-year-old Sacramento man who fell through the ice while skating on Donner Lake, authorities said.
George Sommerdorf Jr. drove to the lake to skate Friday, said Nevada County Sheriff’s Deputy Bobby Meredith. A lakeside resident reported seeing Sommerdorf fall into the lake at 9:24 a.m. Friday about 100 yards from the lake’s north shore.
“I guess he was really into ice skating. He’s been skating all his life. He just went a little bit too far out,” said Meredith.
Divers from the Truckee Fire and Police Joint Dive Team recovered Sommerdorf’s body Saturday afternoon at a depth of about 180 feet in 32 degree water, said Truckee Police Lt. Harwood Mitchell. The lake is estimated to be 240 feet deep at the point where Sommerdorf fell in.
“It was a very difficult, very dangerous recovery,” Mitchell said.
Divers were unable to find Sommerdorf when they first searched the lake on Friday.
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Witnesses said Sommerdorf was skating with another person, who left before the accident. The second skater has not come forward or been identified, but is believed to be safe, Mitchell said. Investigators have not been able to tell if the two were skating together or knew each other, or if the second skater ever became aware the Sommerdorf had fallen through, Mitchell said.
With afternoon air temperatures climbing into the 40s, the ice is thin across much of the lake and absent around much of the shore, said rangers at Donner Memorial State Park.
Police urged against venturing out onto the ice.