A California man died last week while he was heroically trying to save three dogs from a partially frozen lake.
The tragedy occurred on Thanksgiving morning in Meyers, Northern California, which lies near South Lake Tahoe, when David Schmidt was taking three dogs for a walk, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s office said in a statement on Saturday.
Two of the dogs belonged to Schmidt, and one was a friend’s pet, South Tahoe Now reported.
It is believed that while walking the dogs along Lake Baron, one or multiple of the pets fell into the icy water and Schmidt, 39, entered the frigid water to rescue the animals.
Sadly, he did not survive.
Officers from the sheriff’s office and the Lake Valley Fire Department responded to a report of a possible drowning around noon on Thursday, finding the dogs and men’s outerwear was found floating in the lake.
Fire Capt. Perry Quinn told KTXL that they found two of the pups in the water. It was not clear how long the dogs had been in the water had been there which shows “how resilient the dogs” are.
“They, potentially, could have been in the water for an hour or more, we’re not sure. They were still alive and paddling when we got there,” he said.
All three dogs were recovered safely from the lake and were taken to a local vet for treatment, the sheriff’s office said in its statement.
Schmidt’s body was found later on a different part of the lake using a ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle), the sheriff’s office said.
“There were no signs of foul play and all signs indicate that this was a tragic accident,” the sheriff’s office said. “Next of kin notifications have been made.”
Lake Baron will get thick enough to safely cross and even ice skate on later on in the winter, but Sacramento station KTXL reported that when Schmidt was there, it was still at least two inches away from being able to safely cross.
Quinn urged anyone else who was going near the lake to “never be out there alone.”
“You know, go near the ice with a partner, someone who can call 911 if there is an accident,” he said. “Don’t attempt to self-rescue. Don’t attempt to rescue your dogs on your own. We’re more prepared. Don’t enter the water alone.”
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