SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (AP) — Struggling against winds up to 40 mph, an off-duty California sheriff's deputy died trying to save a friend in deep water during an outing on Lake Tahoe, authorities said Friday.
Contra Costa County Deputy Carlos Francies, 30, died Thursday at a hospital after struggling in the water off El Dorado Beach, police said.
Sheriff David Livingston called Francies a hero who died while performing his sworn duty of putting himself in harm's way to protect the lives of others.
Francies was on the lake after renting stand-up paddle boards and kayaks with his girlfriend, sister and another man. They were more than 100 yards off shore in 15-foot water when the strong winds hit.
Francies' sister fell off her kayak and her friend jumped into the water to help. The sister climbed back aboard her kayak to safety. But her friend remained in the water clutching his paddle after his kayak drifted away.
South Lake Tahoe police said Francies may have believed the man was in distress when the deputy jumped into the water and swam toward him, struggling to stay above the surface.
He called to his girlfriend to toss him a life jacket but it did not reach him, police said. He sank and went unconscious.
His girlfriend administered CPR before paramedics arrived. No one else was injured. Only his sister was wearing a life jacket, police said.
The names of the companions were not released.
Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com