MADERA COUNTY–At approximately 8pm on August 10, 2022, the Madera County Sheriff’s Communications Center received a call regarding a teenage subject who had gone missing from his hiking party near Thousand Island Lake.
Thousand Island Lake, part of the Ansel Adams Wilderness in eastern Madera County, is at an elevation of 9,833 with 10,000-foot peaks surrounding it.
The missing person, an 18-year-old male from Los Angeles County, was in the area hiking with a large group and had been unaccounted for for approximately 8 hours at the time of the call. Around noon that day, he swam alone to one of the islands at the lake, and was last seen ashore from a distance by his party.
While Search and Rescue teams were coordinating resources, the reporting party called back to advise they located the subject and needed immediate medical assistance. Due to the urgent nature of the incident, a request was placed with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services for a military helicopter to respond. Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore accepted the mission and responded to the location for medical assistance.
Upon the arrival of the NAS Lemoore helicopter, it was found the young man had passed away. NAS Lemoore was able to transport the victim and his father, who was hiking with him, to Fresno Yosemite International Airport, where they were met by Fresno Airport Police and Sheriff’s Office Staff.
We would like to caution those who recreate in the outdoors, our high-country alpine lakes are still extremely cold even if the valley floor sees 100-degree days. At Thousand Island Lake, the overnight lows are in the low 40’s at night, and the lake itself is fed by glaciers from Mount Ritter and Mount Banner, the peaks of which are -/+ 12,000 feet in elevation. Even in the warmer months, the water is extremely cold.
Sheriff Tyson Pogue reflects, “On behalf of the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, I extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the young man during this tragic time. Incidents like this are truly heartbreaking, and some of the hardest calls we conduct as first responders. Thank you to our allied agencies for their swift efforts to assist us with this mission, and helping to provide support to the family.”