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Woman takes a dip in Echo Park Lake and won’t come out [updated]

Police officer stand by as woman remain in the center of the lake | Luke Hetherman

Police officer stand by as a woman (far right) remained in the center of the lake | Luke Hetherman

ECHO PARK — Police and firefighters are trying to coax a woman out of Echo Park Lake after she went swimming late this afternoon, with officials saying they feared she might drown in the deepest portion of the lake.

“Our concern is not really her swimming in the lake, but her psychological state and fear of her drowning,” said Lt. Wes Buhrmester with the LAPD Rampart Division. ” We also have to be cautious so that rescuers don’t aggravate the situation, and we end up becoming part of the problem.”

The woman, who was first spotted swimming in the lake shortly after 5 p.m., remained floating in the water about three hours later.  “She’s still in the water, so we’re waiting for her to exit,” Buhrmester said.

Echo Park Lake, which is filled primarily with water from storm drain runoff, is off limits to swimmers.

UPDATE: The 27-year-old woman from Orange County left the lake at about 11 pm with the assistance LAPD’s Underwater Dive Unit. She was transported to a hospital for physical and psychiatric treatment. Buhrmester provided more details:

At 10:55 pm, a boat from our Underwater Dive Unit went out to her. She was tired from the time spent in the water, so officers took hold of her arms and she was floated to the boathouse. She was examined by LAFD paramedics, then transported to a hospital for physical and psychiatric treatment. She is a 27-year-old female from Orange County. The scene is now clear.

Early on, a sergeant established something of a rapport with her, and threw her a life vest, which she put on. This gave her enough buoyancy that the danger of her drowning was minimized. At that point, it became a matter of waiting until our boat arrived. Per paramedics who were standing by at scene, the water was not so cold as to put her at risk of dangerous hypothermia. It was also not feasible to put anyone, officer or citizen, in the water because it’s up to 10 feet deep, per park personnel. If she panicked, she could endanger her rescuer. The decision to wait was mine, as I had control of the incident. Once a plan was devised and the boat was launched, the situation was swiftly resolved.

I could see this being considered an excess expenditure of time and resources. Time was on our side, and we utilized it. But I’d much rather be criticized for resource management, than for making a decision to leave and let her settle her issues for herself, to find out later she drowned. Hopefully she will receive the help she needs.

Lady of Lake | Luke Hetherman

Photo by  Luke Hetherman

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28 comments

  1. Go on, girl! It’s so hot that I would probably right there with her if I was at Echo Park today. I Love LA.

    • A homeless person taking an extended bath is bad why???
      She probably would of been gone a lot sooner had there been no police presence
      As long as she’s not exposing herself to everyone, let her enjoy herself, she’ll move on

  2. What’s wrong with just taking a dip? but for 3 hours? She’s probably on something…

    • I think the duration was because the police came and would not leave – she was afraid is she cm out, she would be arrested.

      • Hmm. Also, I understand they have to be cautions. Still, I don’t see any information in this story that would make me suspect she needs psychiatric help. It would be nice to add that if something did go on to suggest that. I don’t think jumping in a lake on a hot summer weekend night is a psychiatric problem. Heck, I say, You Go Girl!

        Just commenting, as I understand they have to be cautious, and police should do as they did, leave medical decision to the experts – at least if there is something to suggest such as issue, information not in this story.

  3. It’s almost 10pm and she is still swimming. The police are spending a small fortune in city dollars,
    including a semi-truck w/the scuba team that just arrived. I spoke to an officer who confirmed my suspicion, homeless (i.e.: mentally ill) woman – who just wont’ come out of the lake. Sure she’s terrified and just wants
    everyone to go home, so she can get out! Oh well, the officers seem to have been doing a caring job w/the
    womans safety being the only concern. (which won’t stop them from cuffing her and taking her to county jail -who’s track record caring for the mentally ill is infamous).

  4. They got her out just before 11pm and took her away via ambulance. She looked relatively OK from what little I could see. I’m glad she didn’t drown or otherwise get hurt – thanks for your patience, LAPD & LAFD.

  5. At 10:55 pm, a boat from our Underwater Dive Unit went out to her. She was tired from the time spent in the water, so officers took hold of her arms and she was floated to the boathouse. She was examined by LAFD paramedics, then transported to a hospital for physical and pyschiatric treatment. She is a 27-year-old female from Orange County. The scene is now clear.

    Early on, a sergeant established something of a rapport with her, and threw her a life vest, which she put on. This gave her enough buoyancy that the danger of her drowning was minimized. At that point, it became a matter of waiting until our boat arrived. Per paramedics who were standing by at scene, the water was not so cold as to put her at risk of dangerous hypothermia. It was also not feasible to put anyone, officer or citizen, in the water because it’s up to 10 feet deep, per park personnel. If she panicked, she could endanger her rescuer. The decision to wait was mine, as I had control of the incident. Once a plan was devised and the boat was launched, the situation was swiftly resolved.

    I could see this being considered an excess expenditure of time and resources. Time was on our side, and we utilized it. But I’d much rather be criticized for resource management, than for making a decision to leave and let her settle her issues for herself, to find out later she drowned. Hopefully she will receive the help she needs.

    Wes
    [email protected]
    (213) 484-3670

    • Thanks for the update and for your careful handling of the situation, Wes!

    • I appreciate that you always take the time to communicate to us, the people of echo park
      (I’d swear you were an english major)
      Thank you lieutenant for being kind to the woman who took a dive.
      You are a class act.

    • Great Job Officers. Thanks for being excellent at your job
      & taking such good care of this distressed lady.

    • Thanks, Wes, for always keeping us updated on incidents in our neighborhood. And thanks to you and your officers for their compassionate and correct handling of this situation!

    • I’m a taxpayer living in Los Angeles, and I consider the way this was handled an excellent expenditure of time and resources. Thank you for a humane and measured approach. Your good efforts and communication are much appreciated.

  6. Wonder if they would have treated the situation the same if the swimmer was Black or Brown. For a 27 year old White woman from Orange County, they waited for 6 hours to play it as save as possible. Minorities don’t get that level of concern.

  7. It is painful to admit, but what David says certainly has the ring of truth to it. The LAPD shot Walter DeLeon in the head for no apparent reason while he was walking down Los Feliz Blvd. for pete’s sake!

    In this case it sounds like the police were kind and patient but if the woman feared that her life was put in danger by the presence of the police I can certainly find that to be an understandable response, especially if she is someone who doesn’t have her full mental faculties..

    I’m a peace loving law abiding professional and I can say in all honesty that I have never been treated with as much rudeness and aggression as I have in a couple of interactions with police officers.

    Of course there are some great officers, most probably are and of course Lt. Buhrmester is one of the good ones, but some officers are real assholes to the point of being killers.

  8. Mr.Wes seriously? Why not us the pepper spray? I have called LAPD report drinking & drunk persons acting foolish at the park , All I get we will be there in couple of minutes , that was two weeks ago still waiting

  9. I certainly hope she was nude. This is Los Angeles.

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