21-year-old killed after swinging on Lake Oroville
OROVILLE, Calif. - 21-year-old Gonzalo Sanchez died on Lake Oroville Saturday after swinging on a rope hung from the Highway 70 bridge.
It happened just after 4 p.m. near Lime Saddle Marina. Officials said this is the first death of its kind on the lake in over a decade.
The calmness of Lake Oroville was restored Sunday, but it was a different story Saturday afternoon.
"I cussed at them and said don't you dare, you'll die out here trying to swing off that, that's all rocks. It's very dangerous," said Mark Steele, who watched the whole thing unfold.
But Sanchez did it anyway, swinging from the rocks, but failing to let go over the water.
"He ended up [swinging back into the rocks], hitting the jagged rocks about 15 feet from the bottom to the water and bounced on in," Steele explained.
Officials said it is illegal to have any rope swings on Lake Oroville. "And for this very reason," said California Parks and Recreation Superintendent Aaron Wright. "I can tell you from my career, I've heard of multiple incidents where people have died or been seriously injured from rope swings."
Officials will cut them down when they see them, but this one had not been reported. It's believed Sanchez was knocked unconscious on the rocks, before falling into the water.
"That's why I was very desperate to get over to him, we flew over there and everybody was trying to, even the kids that were over on the embankment, were trying to find him," Steele explained.
It was a major group response from the public, as well as CAL FIRE, the Butte County Sheriff's Office and Daniel Nourot, Sabrina Buis and Nathan Love, the three California State Parks and Recreation lifeguards who found Sanchez.
"They found him within 15-20 feet of water, they pulled him onto the patrol boat, started CPR immediately," said Wright. "He was then transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead."
Fun intentions that ended in tragedy. "An accident and that's what it is, it's not anybody doing anything malicious, they just either don't let go at the right time, they hit the water and they don't know what they hit," said Wright. "There's so many dangerous things with a rope swing."
Wright also added that despite a very unfortunate outcome, it is amazing that those three lifeguards were able to find Sanchez within 30 minutes of arrival.
A friend of Sanchez' has started a GoFundMe page to help with funeral costs. To donate, click here.