Dive Team Recovers Body at Peña Blanca Lake
By Jonathan Clark
A 24-year-old local man drowned while swimming with his girlfriend at Peña Blanca Lake on Tuesday afternoon.
A dive team discovered the body of Salvador Lopez of Rio Rico at 4:58 p.m., a little more than three hours after witnesses saw him struggle and go under, said Sheriff Antonio Estrada.
“He and his girlfriend were swimming across the lake. She was ahead of him, and all of a sudden she looked back and couldn’t find him,” Estrada said.
“Some people who were watching saw him struggling and then going under. They went looking for him – some people tried to dive and look for him – but that was impossible.”
Paramedics from the Rio Rico Fire District responded to a subsequent 911 call, and then sent for the Santa Cruz County Underwater Recovery Team.
The team began to assemble at the boat launch on the western shore of the lake at shortly past 3 p.m. Three people – two men and a woman who appeared to be in their late teens or early 20s – then guided the dive team boat to an area off the opposite shore, about 150 yards northeast of the boat launch.
The boat brought the witnesses back to the dock, then returned to the spot and began searching the murky water shortly after 4 p.m. A little less than an hour later, they discovered the body.
Estrada said initial reports coming from the lake were confusing and conflicting, in part because a group of graduating seniors from Nogales and Rio Rico High Schools was also at the recreation area at the time.
“The first reports that we got today was that it was probably a student, because I guess there were students that were going out (into the water) to try to help or something,” Estrada said.
“It didn’t turn out to be a student, but unfortunately it did turn out to be somebody, and it was that 24-year-old man.”
Following the recovery, Lopez’s body was taken to a local mortuary before being transferred to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Tucson, Estrada said.
Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 Nogales International News