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Bass Lake, July 2 2019, photo by Dylan Castleman

Man Drowns While Boating On Bass Lake

BASS LAKE – Just after 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2 the Madera County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) initiated a search and rescue response for a possible drowning in the Bass Lake area.

On Wednesday, July 3, the MCSO identified the victim as Kien Phan, 43, from Sachse, Texas.

With his family, Mr. Phan had rented a boat from a local marina, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Five female children ranging in age from 5 to 13 were being pulled on a tube by the boat. A 12-year-old child fell off the tube into the lake. It appeared to the family that the child was descending under water, despite wearing a life jacket.

Her father — the victim in this case — jumped into the water, swam out to her and pushed his daughter back towards the boat. He was not wearing a life jacket, says the Sheriff’s Office, and was reportedly overcome by the rough water conditions of the lake.

The child attempted to assist her father but was unable to reach him. The child’s mother also jumped from the boat in an attempt to help him. A life preserver was thrown into the water by another child, but he was unable to reach it. The victim disappeared into the water.

MCSO boat patrol deputies responded to the area near the Lakeside Amphitheater about 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2 and began searching. Sierra Ambulance Service and Cal Fire responded to the area to provide emergency medical aid. California Highway Patrol also dispatched helicopter H-40 to assist. Additional resources included a Remotely Piloted Vehicle by SAR Personnel as well as multiple SAR and COP volunteers.

The victim was located underwater by Boat Patrol and Search and Rescue Rope Team members shortly after ‪6 p.m‬. Life saving measures were performed by EMS and deputies at the scene but were not successful.

The circumstances of the drowning remain under investigation. At this time, it does not appear as though alcohol, drugs or equipment were a factor in the incident.

“All appearances are this was a tragic accident where one family member assisting another was overcome by wave action and water temperature,” states Sheriff Varney.

“We urge everyone who is enjoying any California waterways over the fourth of July holiday to safeguard themselves against the continuing low water temperatures through limiting time in the water and use of a PFD or life jacket where necessary.”

This was the second time today air resources were called to an incident at Bass Lake. At noon, a patient was transported by SkyLife to CRMC after reportedly falling 50 feet at an unknown location.

No further details on either incident are known at this time.

This article was updated at 10:08 a.m. on July 3 to reflect the identification of the victim and his correct age per Madera County Sheriff’s Office

This article was updated at 10:20 p.m. on July 2 to reflect an additional statement from the Madera County Sheriff’s Office.

This article was updated at 8:30 p.m. on July 2 to reflect a statement from the Madera County Sheriff’s Office.

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