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Missing Man And Possible Drowning at Lake Cachuma
updated: Jul 17, 2014, 3:30 PM

Update by the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office
July 17, 3:28 pm

The search to locate a missing man who was last seen on July 11, 2014 in Cachuma Lake continues and is a multi-agency collaborative effort. The victim is 22-year-old Isaiah Sanchez of El Rio, California. For the past several days, the Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit has been conducting periodic flyovers of the area in hopes of finding Sanchez. Due to zero visibility conditions in the lake, the Sheriff’s Dive Team has not been able to go back in the water and search. The team may get called back in if conditions improve.

County Park Rangers continue to conduct surface patrols by boat using sonar equipment. Today, several County lifeguards were brought in to help with visual searches.

In response to a request from County Parks for mutual aid, California State Parks and the Santa Barbara County Fire Department responded with personnel on jet skis who are searching the shallow areas of the lake and shoreline.

July 12, 2014 3:57 pm

The Sheriff’s Dive Team has suspended its search for a possible drowning victim at Cachuma Lake. Divers reached a depth of 80 feet under zero visibility conditions and performed a search of the immediate area where the 22-year-old male victim was last seen. If conditions improve, the Sheriff’s Dive Team may be called in to search again. In the meantime, County Park Rangers continue to do surface patrols of the area. Boating at Cachuma Lake will remain closed for the remainder of the day.

The identity of the victim is not being released at this time.

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July 12, 2014 12:20 pm

Search is Underway at Cachuma Lake for Missing Man - The Lake is Closed While Sheriff’s Dive Team Members Search

Cachuma Lake- Boating at Cachuma Lake is closed today while the Sheriff’s Dive Team searches for a 22-year-old male who was last seen going underwater last night, July 11, just before 8 p.m. A visitor to the Cachuma Lake Recreation Area called 9-1-1 to report that there was boat about 50 yards offshore, at the north end of the Dakota Plains camping area, with a male waving his warms in distress and two individuals in the water. County Park Rangers at Cachuma Lake responded on a patrol boat and discovered one male victim struggling in the water. They were able to rescue him but were unable to locate the second male subject.

County Park Rangers continued to look for the victim and were assisted by personnel from Santa Barbara County Fire and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office. Together, they searched for the missing subject both on land and in the water. A total of four search vessels were utilized, including two County Park Ranger patrol boats and two Santa Barbara County Fire jet skis. The search was called off for the night at approximately 10:00 p.m. due to poor visibility.

The search continued this morning with personnel from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dive Team and County Park Rangers, which routinely train together for water responses. County Park Rangers are operating the patrol boat for the Sheriff’s Dive Team. The area where the victim was last seen and where the other male subject was rescued is approximately 80 feet deep. Boating at the lake is closed to the public due to the active search effort but the Cachuma Lake Recreation area, which is booked at full capacity this weekend, remains open.

The identities of the three males involved are not being released at this time. They were camping together and the boat they were on reportedly had engine problems. The circumstances of how they ended up in the water is under investigation but at this point it appears the victim may have been trying to swim to shore.


[Ed note: The original report was posted on Friday 7/11/14 at 8:45pm was deleted, most likely affected by the power outage. Below are the original reports that were sent in and any other information related to this story.]

Reports by edhat subscribers on Friday, July 11, 2014

  • 8:32pm - I heard of a possible drowning at Cachuma. Any other info?
  • 8:45pm - SB County Fire called a code 20 at 8:26 p.m. for the "Lake Incident," a possible drowning at Lake Cachuma. Original call time 7:51. Does anyone have any further information?
  • There are plenty of water for boats. The water was very choppy yesterday. My friend is camping there now and he was the one who called 911 and saved the 2nd guy who was drowning. The lake will be closed today to search for his body FYI he was swimming to shore because the battery died on the boat.

    Updated Information
    SBC Fire Department responded to Lake Cachuma for a report of a person missing in the water of Lake Cachuma on Friday evening. Reporting parties on the scene stated a boat was scene with swimmers in the water. Someone on the boat was waving their hands frantically. One swimmer was out of the water but another person was still unaccounted for. Fire, Sheriff, and Park Rangers were on scene. At this point there is no further information.

    Santa Barbara County firefighters are investigating a possible drowning at Lake Cachuma. (07/13/14)
    492 add
    The Santa Barbara County Fire Department said they responded to a possible drowning at Lake Cachuma Friday night. (07/13/14)
    250 add

    Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

     COMMENT 534908 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-12 09:19 AM

    Wow that's horrible. I'm assuming they couldn't swim? That's really sad. I'm hoping for a happy ending to this story.


     COMMENT 534909P agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-12 09:22 AM

    This is where using oars would be safer than swimming.

    Sad. RIP.


     COMMENT 534920 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-12 10:32 AM

    How about a life vest


     ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-12 10:50 AM

    I was listening to the scanner but missed this can't get em all sorry..


     COMMENT 534940 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-12 12:17 PM

    They are deploying divers right now. I posted my account of what happened last night but apparently it was lost in the power outage. Sad day, it was a surreal night wth the full moon and boats looking around for him.


     ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-12 12:53 PM

    The water at Cachuma is 80 feet deep?


     COMMENT 534971 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-12 01:45 PM

    It's 80ft where he was, right in the center of the channel. Divers are gone but rangers come around with binoculars and search from time to time. Seems like it's just wait for him to surface now


     ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-12 02:25 PM



     ANIMALLISTNER agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-12 03:49 PM

    WHY didnt they have floatation vests on? Who wants to drink this water with a body in it? So sad.... Good luck SAR!


     COMMENT 535059 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-12 06:57 PM

    Let's get back to Roger's question. Is the water anywhere at Cachuma really 80 feet deep? That seems awfully deep.


     ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-12 08:31 PM

    80 feet and 150 yards to the middle? Sounds like acouple football fields still? It sure don't look like it..


     COMMENT 535091P agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-12 08:55 PM

    hey whoa - no swimming in the lake. That guys gonna be in trouble.


     COMMENT 535093 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-12 09:01 PM

    Lucky JBYRD- I had copied and pasted your entire story and posted it on my FaceBook page.... Here it is::::::

    First hand info about the Lake Cachuma possible drowning.... posted on EdHat.com by the person that made the initial 911 call. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I'm the person that called it in. My family and I are camping out on the peninsula. I posted information about it to my Facebook, but my phone won't let me copy and paste, so in a nutshell...we for here just after 4pm. We are in a "prime" spot overlooking the lake. Since we arrived, a group of people were hauling around the lake in a Seadoo jet boat. At 7:40pm they went by, and went out of sight. About 40 seconds later we heard screaming and ran to the edge of cliff. The driver of the boat was yelling "Help"! swimmer!..we saw one person in the water who was also screaming and panicking. We called 911 who connected us with Park Rangers and directed them to the spot in the lake where the incident happened. The rangers came and were able to scoop the guy out of the water, but by this time another Park Ranger had pulled up next to us. We heard on his radio that the guy they scooped up was saying there was a second person in the water. We all started searching and I spent 40 minutes scanning the area with binoculars and never saw a thing. My wife and I never saw another person in the water. The one we did see was wearing a flotation device, but we are guessing the second wasn't, and must have went under the water and never resurfaced. We also heard over the radio that the guy that was pulled out was so drunk that he couldn't help them with any information. It's a sad situation all around. At 10:40pm boats were still searching for him.


     COMMENT 535106 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-12 10:18 PM

    Thanks D8! It's been an interesting day up here today. He still hasn't surfaced. I did some reading and depending on water temp and other factors it could be awhile.


     COMMENT 535116 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-13 01:08 AM

    You are very welcome.

    It's a very sad situation and I'm sure, you having witnessed the event, would be happier if everything were to turn out fine. One can only hope & pray for that. Maybe, once they resume the search...... Those guys were very lucky that you happen to be watching in that direction, otherwise things could have been even worse. Good job JByrd


     COMMENT 535142P agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-13 09:13 AM

    D8Vanilla: Good report; thanks.


     COMMENT 535147 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-13 09:23 AM

    How awful, so young.


     COMMENT 535155 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-13 09:34 AM

    What the heck were they doing in the water? Isn't Cachuma a "no body contact" lake? Is does supply drinking water, after all.
    (This is a rhetorical question; no need to comment.)


     COMMENT 535195 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-13 12:57 PM

    Yes, Rex/Roger, I was very surprised to read that the lake had that much depth, too. Hard to believe... It looks more like 8', from all the recent pics.


     FLICKA agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-17 06:14 PM

    As for swimming, if the guy was as drunk as his friend he likely fell overboard. The friend possibly went in to save him. Swimming is not allowed there.


     COMMENT 536495P agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-17 06:15 PM

    I am sorry that the person is missing and thought to have drowned...that is very very sad. But, I wonder why anyone is still looking? Seems like a lot of effort, for someone who is already gone...is the family paying for it?


     COMMENT 536512P agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-17 07:44 PM

    They nearly drained/wasted 38 million gallons in a reservoir in Oregon because a kid peed in it. They did a little reversal, but it still won't be going to sinks as was the original plan. I'm surprised activities are allowed in Cachuma.



     COMMENT 536530 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-17 10:28 PM

    Maybe they should bring in the SAR/cadaver dogs. Many are trained to detect bodies underwater.


     COMMENT 536535P agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-17 11:16 PM

    How is the water then treated for all of us, if there is a body decomposing in the lake? Grisly thought, but will there be any extra measures taken?

    I realize there are all kinds of animal poop, decaying fish, dead birds and so on, as a normal part of what ends up in that water. But if it's a human? Anyone know?


     COMMENT 536544 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-18 07:04 AM

    There are no activities allowed in the lake..you can boat, kayak, etc. But you can not swim. The filtration and cleaning process of the water before it reaches your sink is far above and beyond what is actually needed to provide safe drinking water already. California has some of the toughest standards on drinking water (that's why we pay so much for it).

    The man that was saved was trying to save the man who drowned. Is the family paying for it? What a ridiculous question, but the answer is most likely yes..through taxes, like we all do so we can rest assured we will be saved or recovered should something terrible like this happen to us. Sheesh...people and their wallets..money is more important than our fellow man.


     COMMENT 537641P agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-07-21 03:44 PM

    JBYRD...Boating and kayaking ARE activities. Just sayin'!


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