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

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.

Photo by  Luke Hetherman

Support The Eastsider Today

Bloggers don’t live on comments alone. You can support The Eastsider, a privately-owned company, by purchasing an annual Reader Sponsorship. Your financial support and sponsorship will help defray the costs of gathering neighborhood news and stories. You can pay via PayPal or by using your credit or debit card. Your sponsorship is not tax deductible. Just click on the button below to select a sponsorship level and sign up today.

The Eastsider offers four levels of Reader Sponsorships:

$25 Reader Sponsorship

  • Get An Eastsider Reader Benefits Card that entitles you to deals and discounts from neighborhood merchants
  • You will be thanked by name on the blog and recognized as a sponsor of The Eastsider

$50 Reader Sponsorship

  • Get An Eastsider Reader Benefits Card that entitles you to deals and discounts from neighborhood merchants
  • You will be thanked by name on the blog and recognized as a sponsor of The Eastsider
  • Complementary Eastsider postcards

$100 Reader Sponsorship

  • Get An Eastsider Reader Benefits Card that entitles you to deals and discounts from neighborhood merchants
  • You will be thanked by name on the blog and recognized as a sponsor of The Eastsider.
  • Complementary Eastsider postcards
  • One-month advertisement promoting the nonprofit, school or charity of your choice located or active in our coverage area (email us for details).
Fill out my online form.

Thanks for your support!

Jesús Sanchez, The Eastsider LLC

Click here if you are having trouble viewing this form

Load comments