Search Underway for Missing Couple in Echo Park Lake

posted by City News Service - 

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Authorities today were searching Echo Park Lake for a possible drowning victim who fell from a pedal boat that capsized before dawn.

Firefighters were sent to the 800 block of North Echo Park Avenue about 3:45 a.m. in response to a report that two people had fallen into the lake from a capsized pedal boat, according to Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

First responders located and interviewed a man who swam ashore from the boat, and he told them another man was missing. Searchers used boats -- aided by a helicopter with a powerful light -- to search for the missing man, but found no sign of him.

After about two hours, the rescue efforts "transitioned to a body- recovery operation,” Stewart said.

LAFD Capt. Erik Scott said after daybreak that dive teams would use sonar equipment in their efforts to find the possible drowning victim. Authorities also considered the possibility that the man had survived and had gone home, but he had not been found as of late morning.

Police learned that two or three pedal boats apparently had been illegally boarded by several people overnight.

"We had individuals that trespassed, possibly stole these three or two floating vessels -- took them out to the lake,” Los Angeles police Sgt. Frank Preciado told Fox 11.

"Our understanding is that on the capsized boat one of the males stood up,” Preciado said. "That caused the boat to capsize. That individual swam over to the east side of Echo Park Lake -- made it out -- and (asked) the other two couples ... to please help my friend.”

Preciado said the people may have been drinking.

"It's a real bad combination if you don't know how to swim and you're intoxicated,” Preciado said. "You shouldn't be around water.”

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