California Man Drowns While Attempting To Save His Dogs That Fell Into Partially Frozen Lake

He died a hero.

David Schmidt, 39, was out for a hike with his two dogs, Cheena and Oreo, and a friend’s dog at Tahoe Paradise Park on Thanksgiving in Meyers, California. Authorities believe that the dogs were walking along the partially frozen Lake Baron and fell in.

Lake Baron will eventually have ice thick enough to ice skate on, but experts said the ice is still 2 inches too thin to safely cross.

Close friends of Schmidt told South Tahoe Now that he would be too smart to just walk onto thin ice without a good reason. He did have a good reason – he was trying to save his dogs that fell into the icy water, but sadly he did not survive.

El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office was alerted about a possible drowning around noon on Thanksgiving. Lake Valley Fire Department arrived on the scene to help. “When we got there, we made our way down the lake and we saw the two dogs in the water,” said Lake Valley Fire Capt. Perry Quinn.

The rescuers wore protective gear and immediately entered the freezing water to rescue the dogs. “It’s amazing how resilient the dogs can be,” Quinn told FOX40. “They, potentially, could have been in the water for an hour or more, we’re not sure. They were still alive and paddling when we got there.”

Rescuers noticed a man’s winter coat floating in the water and immediately began to search, but were unable to find a body. “EDSO Dive Team, along with Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Boat Team, Lake Valley Fire, South Lake Tahoe Fire, and EDSO Search and Rescue, continued to search the lake the following day,” stated El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office. Schmidt’s body was finally found and next of kin were notified.

There were no signs of foul play and all signs indicate that this was a tragic accident, EDSO PIO Sgt. Anthony Prencipe said.

The three dogs were brought to a local vet and all are expected to survive. The South Tahoe Now reports that the dogs have been released to friends.

Quinn cautions dog owners to “Never be out there alone”. Always bring another person along to call for help in case of an emergency. He added, “Don’t attempt to self-rescue. Don’t attempt to rescue your dogs on your own. We’re more prepared. Don’t enter the water alone.”

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Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast who resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.
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