Members of the Santa Barbara County sheriff’s Dive Team on Saturday suspended their search for a boater who was last seen in the water at Lake Cachuma on Friday night. It is feared the man may have drowned.
“Divers reached a depth of 80 feet under zero-visibility conditions, and performed a search of the immediate area where the 22-year-old male victim was last seen,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said. “If conditions improve, the Sheriff’s Dive Team may be called in to search again.”
Park rangers planned to continue patrolling in the area when the man disappeared, she said.
The incident began shortly before 8 p.m. Friday, when a visitor on shore called 9-1-1 to report that there was a boat offshore with a man waving his arms in distress, and two people in the water, Hoover said.
She said the boat was about 50 yards offshore at the north end of the Dakota Plains camping area.
County park rangers responded on a patrol boat, and rescued one man found struggling in the water, as well as the man in the boat, Hoover said.
A search, in the water and on land, was launched for the second man last seen in the water, but Hoover said he could not be located.
“A total of four search vessels were utilized, including two county park ranger patrol boats and two Santa Barbara County fire jet skis,” she said. “The search was called off for the night at approximately 10 p.m. due to poor visibility.”
The search continued Saturday in the vicinity of where the victim was last seen, and where his companion was rescued. Hoover said the water in the area is about 80 feet deep.
“Boating at the lake is closed to the public due to the active search effort, but the Cachuma Lake Recreation area, which is booked at full capacity this weekend, remains open,” she said, adding that the expected to remain closed to boating through Saturday.
The names of the three boaters, including the missing man, were not being released, Hoover said.
“They were camping together, and the boat they were on reportedly had engine problems,” Hoover said. “The circumstances of how they ended up in the water is under investigation, but at this point it appears the victim may have been trying to swim to shore.”
Noozhawk spoke to a man near the boat facility at the lake, who said he was the uncle of the victim.
The man, who would not give his name, said his nephew was from Oxnard. He said the motor in the boat died, and his nephew tried to swim ashore. He said his nephew was not a good swimmer, but could swim.