Parachutists rescued from Lake Tahoe
April 26, 2006
Two parachutists were rescued from Lake Tahoe Wednesday afternoon after they landed in the frigid water near Tahoe Vista.
One of the men was suffering from hypothermia and was taken to Tahoe Forest Hospital, according to the Placer County Sheriff’s Department. The other man was not injured.
Around 1:30 p.m., the sheriff’s department received numerous calls that one or more parachutists had landed in the lake, according to Sgt. Bill Langton. The two men had left by plane from Truckee Tahoe Airport and had planned on landing on the beach in Kings Beach. But the conditions were not good, Langton said.
“I saw two parachuters ” one coming down at normal speed and another coming down really fast,” said Florencia Scianna, manager at Tahoe Vistana, who called 9-1-1. “It looked like his parachute wasn’t all the way open ” it was kind of twisted. I saw him go straight down. He spiraled down into the water. It was three times faster than the other guy.”
Scianna said she was surprised the man didn’t suffer any other injuries besides hypothermia.
“I thought he would have died from the impact,” she said. “It definitely didn’t look normal.”
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Langton, who was first to arrive on scene along with North Tahoe Fire, said he saw one parachutist approximately 1,000 feet off shore near the Tahoe Sands Resort in Tahoe Vista.
“We saw a subject in the water who was swimming and flailing and grabbed onto a buoy,” Langton said.
An employee of Tonopalo rowed out to the man in a rubber raft and was able to pull him aboard, Langton noted. While she was rowing back to shore, a vessel from Sierra Boat Company arrived on scene and the man ” whose identity has not been released ” was transferred from the raft to the vessel. He was taken to the shore and treated by medics for hypothermia and then transferred to Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee, he said.
The second man reportedly landed further in the water and was picked up by a private boat and taken to a pier in Kings Beach. He sustained no injuries, Langton said.
The parachutist with hypothermia was in the cold water for approximately 20 minutes, while the other man was in the water for about 10 minutes, Langton noted.
“It [hypothermia] can set in really fast,” he said.
The parachutist who was taken to the Kings Beach pier was reunited with his friends who had driven from Truckee to watch the men land. They drove to the hospital to check on the other man, Langton said.
In addition to Sierra Boat Company, the sheriff’s office deployed its boat to the scene, as did North Tahoe Marina. A Coast Guard boat from South Shore was called and a Careflight unit and the Placer County sheriff’s dive team were canceled after the men were rescued.
Langton said there are no laws restricting where parachutists can land, but that it is not a common occurrence for them to land in Lake Tahoe.