Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit pulls body from 1,062 feet in Lake Tahoe
The body of a 33-year-old man, who dived into Lake Tahoe and then sank before he could be pulled to safety, was found in more than 1,000 feet of water on Monday, thanks to a submersible operated by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
Cameron Park resident Chaitanya Datla moved the U.S., obtained an MBA and had been working for an IT firm for just over a year when he came to Tahoe for a weekend.
According to witnesses, he dived into the lake without a lifejacket and disappeared below the water’s surface on Sept. 9.
On Monday, Douglas County’s Marine 7 used its recently acquired submersible to search depths that no diver could have reached to locate and recover Datla’s body.
“The search and recovery effort was unprecedented in Lake Tahoe due to the extreme depths and the technology needed to facilitate this type of recovery,” said the El Dorado County Sheriff’s officials.
The Douglas submersible was deployed for the first time this summer after the county received a donation to fund its $108,000 cost.
With 192 square miles of open water, families of those lost in Lake Tahoe have often had to wait years for special equipment to arrive and help recover the deceased.
That’s because much of the lake is too deep for divers to safely search.
“As soon as depths start getting below that 100-foot mark, we start getting into higher risk operating with divers to conduct searches,” said Douglas County Deputy Steve Schultz, one of the crew of Marine 7.
South Lake Tahoe Fire and Rescue Marine 17 responded to aid Marine 7 with the body recovery. The South Lake Tahoe Fire and Rescue Marine Unit was also donated by the same resident, whose donation allowed the purchase of the submersible.
“This search and recovery would not have been successful without the private donations from a local resident, training by Bruce’s Legacy, and the assistance from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, South Lake Tahoe Police Department, South Lake Tahoe Fire and Rescue Marine Unit, the Tahoe Douglas Fire Marine Unit, El Dorado County SAR, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit, and the U.S. Coast Guard,” officials said.
This is the second instance in two months where someone has jumped into Lake Tahoe from a boat without a lifejacket and drowned.
On Aug. 4, a man was videoed doing a cannonball off the back of a boat in shallower water.
While Marine 7 responded to the incident with the submersible, conditions were shallow enough to allow recovery of the body without its aid.
Lake Tahoe is extremely cold even on warm fall days, and the shock of hitting the water can incapacitate a swimmer.
A Go Fund Me account has been established in Datla’s name at http://www.gofundme.com/help-chaitanya-datla039s-family