Man dies in apparent drowning |

Man dies in apparent drowning

William Ferchland
William Ferchland / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Paramedics worked to save the life of Gene Andrew Spear, a 52-year-old from Reno, before transporting him to Barton Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead Monday from an apparent drowning.

A 52-year-old Reno man apparently drowned Monday when he jumped off his boat for a swim in Lake Tahoe but couldn’t get back to the drifting vessel, authorities said.

Gene Andrew Spear was pronounced dead at Barton Memorial Hospital at 4:04 p.m., according to El Dorado sheriff’s Coroner Larry Olsen.

Olsen said Spear and his wife, without life jackets, dunked themselves into the lake for an afternoon swim and “as it has happened so many times, they had to swim hard, apparently, to catch up to the boat.”

The two were pulled from the water by passersby in another boat who performed CPR on Spear based on instructions from a dispatcher reached by cell phone, authorities said.

Paramedics reached Spear on the public pier at Camp Richardson. Spectators flocked to the scene.

“The dock was packed with people just trying to figure out what was going on,” said witness Holly Juscen from San Francisco.

Olsen, who was assigned to boat patrol for three years, was all too familiar with the story of people trying to catch up to a drifting boat. Lake Tahoe’s frigid waters coupled with the high altitude can quickly tire a person, especially one not wearing a life jacket.

Spear’s apparent drowning was the fourth death at the lake in the last two weeks. In addition to the deaths of two 19-year-old men at Zephyr Cove at the end of last week that remain under investigation, 19-year-old William Lockwood died at a creek along Kiva Beach on July 11. Preliminary autopsy results indicated Lockwood died of asphyxiation and drowning.

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