Men who drowned at Topaz weren’t wearing life vests
Two Sparks men, who drowned at Topaz Lake on Saturday, weren’t wearing life vests, the Nevada Department of Wildlife said on Tuesday.
“This is tragic news,” said Chief Game Warden Tyler Turnipseed. “Obviously, our thoughts and prayers go out to not only the families of the victims, but to everyone involved. These men were just out there fishing and having a good time, to have it end like this is heartbreaking.”
According to the state, the boat started to take on water 150-200 yards off shore. All three tried to swim to shore, but the survivor, 47-year-old Yerington resident Scott Wise realized he would not make it to shore and returned to the boat which remained floating.
Bert Peterson, 45, and Jesse Gregory, 50, tried to make it to shore but succumbed to exhaustion in the 40-degree water.
Peterson’s body was retrieved on Saturday evening, while Gregory was found in 22 feet of water on Sunday with the help of the Douglas County submersible.
“When a person is submerged in cold water, they only have a limited time before the cold water will cause a loss of control over hands, arms and legs making it impossible to swim,” wildlife officials said.
Turnipseed said the temperature of the water made it nearly impossible for anyone to make the swim to shore.
“The average person would start to lose muscle control within the first few minutes,” he said. “We know it sounds counter intuitive when you can see the shore, but your best chance is always to stay with the boat. Hold on and get at least part of your body out of the cold water and wait for help to come. Your odds of surviving go way up if you stay with the boat.”
In Nevada only children under the age of 13 are required to wear a lifejacket, though authorities suggest everyone wear one when in a boat on the water.
“Cold water or not, a life vest can make all the difference in a boating accident,” said Turnipseed. “The latest report from the Coast Guard states that 85 percent of drowning victims connected to a boating accident were not wearing a flotation device. You should always wear your life vest when you’re boating, kayaking or paddle boarding. You just never know what could happen out there.”