Delaware man drowns off Lake Tahoe North Shore |

Delaware man drowns off Lake Tahoe North Shore

by Ryan Hoffman

The official cause of death of a Delaware man whose unresponsive body was pulled from Lake Tahoe on Aug. 2 has yet to be determined.

Law enforcement believes Wilfried Holtje, of Wilmington, Delaware, was swimming in Lake Tahoe that morning when he started to drown.

Bystanders on a nearby beach spotted Holtje, 80, off the shore of a private beach in Crystal Bay around 11:45 a.m., according to Bob Harmon, public information officer for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office.

The bystanders pulled Holtje from the water and started first aid.

Emergency responders with North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District arrived on scene and took over. Holtje was pronounced dead at the scene around 12:15 p.m.

The Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office, which identified Holtje, said an official cause of death is still pending a toxicology report.

Holtje is the most recent drowning victim at Lake Tahoe this summer.

In July San Mateo County correctional officer Andreiam Jeffrey Arqueza, 34, drowned in Zephyr Cove. That same month, another man drowned on Tahoe’s West Shore. A third person was saved by bystanders and first responders on the East Shore.

Without speculating on the cause of death, Harmon noted that cold water immersion is a very real danger at Tahoe and other alpine lakes.

Cold water immersion can lead to muscle fatigue and failure within minutes, according to information from Barton Health. Ultimately, cardiac arrest can occur.

“It doesn’t matter how good of a swimmer you are — when the water hits certain temperatures it’s going to cause issues,” he said.

Harmon recommends people wear a personal flotation device when they’re on the Lake.