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Park rangers expose drowning risks, dangers in lakes | News

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Park rangers expose drowning risks, dangers in lakes

LAKE MEAD, Nev. -- The weather is warming up, and that means many people will venture off into lakes to cool off.

"I'm just here relaxing in the sun and having a good time away from school and people. I'm just hanging out,” said Cody Snider, student spending Spring break at Lake Mead.

However, this is the time of year when a lot of accidents happen in lakes, according to Lake Mead park rangers, and it's largely in part to water levels.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area District Ranger Mark Hnat says people should pay attention to water levels because lower water levels make for a dangerous situation.

"With lower water, you never know where the rocks or anything are. It's dangerous out here, especially with big waves brought in by the wind,” said Snider.

Ranger Hnat says it's not always clear what's underneath the water surface of a lake.

"It's basically a desert underneath there, so you're going to have rocky, jagged edges. You may hit stuff on the bottom and not know it's there,” said Hnat.

There's also a huge risk factor for people who like to jump into the water from cliffs. Just Wednesday divers recovered the body of a 15-year-old from Las Vegas from the Lake Mohave reservoir on the Colorado River.

The Clark County coroner identified the teen as Srirachat Ganpet. Park Service spokeswoman Christie Vanover says Ganpet jumped from a rocky cliff about 20 feet high to help a distressed swimmer about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. The other swimmer made it to shore, but Ganpet disappeared.

Which leads to another one of Ranger Hnat's points: It's very important for people going to know how to swim.

"There are a lot of times when people feel like they know how to swim, but they don't necessarily swim as well as they think they can,” Hnat said.

In 2014, there were 12 possible drownings. In each case, the victims weren't wearing a life jacket. The breakdown of the incidents is below.

On Lake Mead

  • 3 near Echo Bay in February (1 is still missing)
  • 1 near Castle Reef
  • 1 near Callville Bay
  • 1 at Boulder Basin
  • 1 at Sandy Cove

On Lake Mohave

  • 1 near Cabinsite Cove
  • 1 at river mile
  • 1 at Paiute Cove
  • 1 North of Cottonwood Cove
  • 1 at Placer Cove

So far in 2015, there have been two possible drownings. In each case, the victims weren't wearing a life jacket.

On Lake Mohave

  • 1 near Shallow Rapids
  • 1 at Placer Cove

Vanover said no matter how great of a swimmer someone is, high winds, cold lake waters or fatigue can quickly take over. She said the one thing that has proven to save someone's life time and time again is a life jacket.

Map by Ned Wolfenbarger

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