Bystanders praised in near-drowning at Lake Tahoe |

Bystanders praised in near-drowning at Lake Tahoe

Members of the Washoe County Sheriff's Office Marine 9 crew who took part in the rescue of a near drowning victim at Lake Tahoe include Deputy Randy Hill (left), civilian boat operator Ron Rosa, and Deputy Heidi Pickard. The incident occured on Friday, July 5.
Provided / Washoe County Sheriff’s Office

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Washoe County’s sheriff is praising the efforts of bystanders who helped save a man who nearly drowned by Thunderbird Lodge earlier this month.

Deputies aboard the watercraft Marine 9 were alerted of a drowning off Thunderbird Beach around 1:30 p.m. July 5, according to a press release. Deputies arrived in less than two minutes and found a woman administering CPR to a man on the beach.

Witnesses told authorities that they saw the man swimming offshore before he suddenly started to struggle and sank beneath the surface.

Bystanders on the nearby beach swam out to bring the man to shore.

At the time, Des Moines, Iowa resident Erin Dohlman was on a boat with friends when she noticed the incident, according to the sheriff’s office. Dohlman, a recent graduate of the Des Moines University Physician Assistant Program, went to see if she could help.

An off-duty firefighter from California had already initiated life-saving measures. Dohlman offered to relieve him in those efforts.

Another bystander, Freddy Matias, an off-duty firefighter with CalFire’s Napa Valley station in St. Helena, also arrived and assisted Dohlman with lifesaving efforts.

“A life was on the line and people stepped up,” Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam said in a press release.

Deputies Heidi Pickard and Randy Hill went ashore and noticed the man was unconscious and not breathing. They proceeded to administer CPR and use a defibrillator on the man.

After two rounds of CPR, the victim regained a slight pulse and began to breathe. The victim slowly regained consciousness.

Deputies and North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District personnel decided to use Marine 9 to move the victim to the Thunderbird Lodge boat dock for further treatment, according to the sheriff’s office.

Matias and two lifeguards from Sand Harbor State Park helped load the victim onto the boat and he was transported to the dock.

After assessing the man’s condition, medical personnel asked Marine 9 to transport the victim to Sand Harbor in order to expedite transfer to Careflight, according to the sheriff’s office. He was brought to Sand Harbor and flown to a Reno hospital for treatment.

The sheriff’s office reports that the man’s family has said he is doing well and expected to recover. They appreciate the efforts of everyone involved in this rescue.

The sheriff also expressed his appreciation for the life-saving efforts.

“I cannot think of a better example of our deputies’ commitment to the safety of those we serve and the importance of our partnership with the public,” Balaam said in the press release. “I cannot express loudly enough how much we appreciate the way Ms. Dohlman, Mr. Matias, and the other bystanders got involved so willingly, and without hesitation, went to the aid of a stranger. Deputies Pickard and Hill, along with the rest of the Marine 9 crew, medics, lifeguards, and the dispatch operators who helped coordinate it all, did a phenomenally professional job.

“We should all be proud and appreciative of the manner and spirit with which they all came together to save a family from losing a loved one.”

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