Man drowns in riverfront pond near Windsor
Published: Saturday, July 7, 2012 at 5:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, July 7, 2012 at 5:28 p.m.
A man drowned Saturday afternoon about 20 feet from the edge of a deep lake in Riverfront Regional Park west of Windsor, authorities said.
The unidentified man and a friend were on Lake Benoist in some type of raft when the man, who could not swim, went into the water about 2:57 p.m., Sonoma County Sheriff's Sgt. Brad Burke said.
The man became distressed and his friend attempted to pull him out of the water, but he slipped under the surface and disappeared, Burke said.
Citizens went into the water and searched the shore but found nothing before deputies arrived, Burke said.
The Marin County Sheriff's dive team was summoned to recover the man's body, he said.
Sonoma County Park Ranger Chris Herman said the 68-acre lake, a reclaimed gravel pit next to the Russian River, drops off steeply, with hidden snags underwater.
“Absolutely not the right place to go swimming,” he said.
Burke said he was told the lake was 60 to 80 feet deep.
A sign along the unpaved road that rings the lake warns of a “steep shoreline” with “submerged objects.” Wading, swimming and diving are prohibited.
Central Fire District Battalion Chief Joe Giordani said it was the same lake where Dr. John McDonald of Santa Rosa, founder of the REACH medical helicopter service, died in an airplane crash in 2000.
McDonald was flying a Cessna 182 that plunged into the lake less than two miles northwest of Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport.
Michael Forslund of Santa Rosa said he was fishing with a friend on the opposite side of the lake when he heard someone call for help along with shouts that “somebody's going down.”
A CHP helicopter hovered low over the lake in an unsuccessful effort to spot the man, Forslund said.
Lake Benoist and another former gravel pit, Lake Wilson, comprise most of the county park on Eastside Road opened in 2005.
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