UNR football player feared dead in Lake Tahoe paddleboard incident | SierraSun.com

UNR football player feared dead in Lake Tahoe paddleboard incident

Staff and wire reports

UPDATE: 12 p.m. Sunday, June 12:

Authorities suspended the search Saturday for a University of Nevada, Reno, football player who went missing while paddleboarding amid windy and white-cap conditions Friday on Lake Tahoe.

The Placer County Sheriff's Office said it exhausted all options in the search for 20-year-old Marc Ma — a sophomore defensive end for the Wolf Pack — who went missing Friday.

The sheriff's office said they are waiting for special search teams that use sonar, which could take two or three days.

The location on the lake where Ma — a Honolulu, Hawaii, native — went missing is approximately 150 to 300 feet deep. Divers will have to acclimate to the depth before they can participate in further operations, a Placer County Sheriff's Office Facebook report said.

According to a news release, Ma was on a paddleboard trip with several football players Friday afternoon. The group was paddle boarding about 1.7 miles off Lake Tahoe's West Shore when they encountered strong winds that caused 3- to 5-foot swells.

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According to the sheriff's report, Ma headed back to shore to get help. At around the same time, nearby Obexer's Marina staff saw the boarders were in danger and headed  out to rescue them.

While heading toward the group, they saw Ma by his paddleboard to the north of the marina, the report said.

After rescuing the group, they returned to where they had seen Ma, but found his board adrift and him missing.

He was not wearing a life jacket, according to PCSO.

The original story text from Friday is below:

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HOMEWOOD, Calif. — Rescue crews are searching for a paddleboarder who went missing Friday afternoon after venturing out on a windy and white-capped Lake Tahoe.

According to a news release from the North Tahoe Fire Protection District, personnel were dispatched at 3:23 p.m. to a report of a missing paddleboarder roughly 700 yards off shore near the marina at Obexer's Boat Company in Homewood.

"Rescue personnel met with fellow paddle boarders who stated they had turned toward shore due to the high winds," officials said, and one of the paddleboarders did not return.

Friday has been a Red Flag Day at Lake Tahoe, according to the National Weather Service in Reno, due to high winds that have approached gusts of up to 40 mph.

A lake wind advisory remains in effect through Friday evening, with wave heights of 2 to 4 feet in the forecast.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Placer County Sheriff's Office marine unit is assisting in the search, along with water rescue personnel from Washoe County, El Dorado County, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, Truckee Dive Team and the Central Fire Department.

"Obexer's Water Sports also assisted by allowing rescue personnel to use their water craft in the search," according to NTFPD.

A CalStar helicopter and a Naval helicopter from Fallon, Nev., have also been dispatched.

STATEMENT FROM NEVADA WOLF PACK COACH BRIAN POLIAN:

“The Placer County Sheriff’s Office is calling this search one of recovery, not rescue. As such, it is with an incredibly heavy heart that we acknowledge the loss of Marc Ma, a beloved member of our Wolf Pack family.

“Laura and I spent time at the lake today with Marc’s parents, Michele and Michael, and our thoughts and prayers are with Marc’s entire family and friends in Hawaii and with those close to him here in Reno. We share in their devastation and will support them in any way we can. We are thankful for the courageous efforts of search personnel.

“Marc was a very special young man and it was an honor to work with him. He was universally liked and respected by his teammates, coaches and staff. Marc excelled in the classroom and had grown by leaps and bounds in the weight room and on the football field. His easy smile and cheerful demeanor belied a fierce competitive nature that would emerge in practice and excite our team.

“Our team has lost a friend and a brother and we are hurting right now. I have no doubt that we will rally together to love and support one another in manner that will honor Marc’s memory.”

Source: UNR Athletics. Visit http://www.nevadawolfpack.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/061116aaa.html to read more.