Icy water may be cause of Tahoe death
A San Mateo corrections officer who died at Zephyr Cove last week may have succumbed to Lake Tahoe’s icy waters.
Andreiam Arqueza, 34, was vacationing at Lake Tahoe with friends around 3 p.m. July 16 when he and three other men walked out to a pile of boulders about 45 yards off the beach.
According to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, all four men jumped off the rocks and into the water.
Arqueza was the last man to jump off the boulders. His three friends swam to shore, and then realized Arqueza wasn’t with them.
They went to look for him when they heard someone else had found him.
A registered nurse happened to hear a female paddle boarder yelling for help and swam to where she saw Arqueza at the bottom of the Lake, motionless. Several people helped pull him from the water and put him on the paddleboard, where the nurse began CPR on the paddleboard as it was towed to shore.
By the time they got to shore, Douglas deputies had arrived on scene and took over life-saving measures until Tahoe-Douglas medics arrived.
Arqueza was taken to Barton Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 5 p.m.
Deputies said it didn’t appear that Arqueza suffered any injury as a result of jumping into Lake Tahoe.
El Dorado County Sheriff’s Sgt. Anthony Prencipe said his department is handling the coroner’s investigation into Arqueza’s death.
While the cause of Arqueza’s death has not been released, cold-water shock is a factor in many of the drowning incidents that occur at Lake Tahoe, and warm summer weather makes people even more vulnerable to the frigid waters.
Swimmers and boaters suddenly exposed to the cold waters of Lake Tahoe may experience rapid breathing, gasping, fainting, muscle failure and immediate risk of drowning, according to the Nevada Department of Wildlife.
The best way for boaters, paddlers and swimmers to stay safe is to always wear a life jacket.
The only Douglas County deputy lost in the line of duty died when he had a heart attack after plunging into Lake Tahoe’s frigid waters on May 24, 1998.
Reserve Deputy Ed Callahan fell in 15 feet of water when a dinghy capsized near Zephyr Cove.
The temperature at the Lake runs 50-55 degrees through July and causes 10-15 cases of cold water shock a year.
Jumping into the cold water can cause a person to take an uncontrollable gasp for air and then breathe rapidly, which if underwater can be fatal.
Easing into the water is one way to prevent cold water shock by giving time to adjust to cold temperatures.
Arqueza was a father of two.