SOUTH LAKE TAHOE POLICE DEPARTMENT NEWS RELEASE
Date: August 14th, 2015
Off Duty Contra Costa Deputy Sheriff Drowns in Lake Tahoe
On August 13, 2015 at about 2:48pm South Lake Tahoe Fire/Medics and the Police Department were dispatched to the area of El Dorado Beach in South Lake Tahoe on a report of someone having drowned and who was being brought back into shore. Medics arrived and began CPR on an adult male subject who was not breathing. The subject was transported to Barton Memorial Hospital where he was later pronounced deceased. The victim has been identified as 30 year old Carlos Francies, an off-duty Deputy Sheriff with Contra Costa County California. Deputy Francies was visiting South Lake Tahoe with family and friends, spending the afternoon on El Dorado Beach near the intersection of US Highway 50 and Lakeview Avenue.
Deputy Francies and his girlfriend, his sister and another male friend had rented paddles and kayaks near the beach. Deputy Francies and his girlfriend were on the paddle boards, while his sister and the other man were on kayaks. The type of kayaks they were using permit a rider to stand on them as well as to sit. All four were in the lake, more than a hundred yards off shore, at a water depth of approximately 15 feet. Deputy Francies’ sister was the only one of the four who had donned a life jacket. The winds were strong on the lake yesterday. A high wind warning for Lake Tahoe had been issued, with forecasts of winds gusting to 40mph.
Deputy Francies and his girlfriend were close together on their paddle boards, while his sister and the other man were about 50 yards distant from them. Deputy Francies saw his sister fall off of her kayak from a standing position. Their friend near to her jumped off his own kayak to assist her. While doing so, their friend kept hold of his paddle, as his own kayak drifted some distance away. After helping Deputy Francie’s sister back aboard her kayak, the man began swimming to retrieve his own kayak. Because he swam while still holding his paddle, it appeared to Deputy Francies from a distance that his friend was in distress.
Deputy Francies responded immediately in an effort to help his friend, who he believed may be near to drowning. He jumped into the water and began swimming the distance toward his friend. Almost immediately however, only about 20 feet or so from his paddle board, Deputy Francies began to falter and fall into distress himself. He was struggling to stay on the surface and called to his girlfriend, a registered nurse, to toss him the life jacket from her paddle board. She attempted to do so, but was forced to throw against the strong wind. The life jacket fell far short of Deputy Francies. She then jumped into the water to retrieve the life jacket and bring it toward Deputy Francies. While doing so, she could see him begin to sink. She was able to get to him with the life vest before he sank completely, but it appeared he had gone unconscious. Another unidentified citizen arrived to help and they were able to bring Deputy Francies into shallow enough water that they could stand. At this point other people witnessing the event brought a paddle board to them and helped to put Deputy Francies, now fully unconscious, onto the board. His girlfriend began CPR Deputy Francies still on paddle board while making their way to the shore. Medics arrived and assist at the shore.
During the event, Deputy Francies’ friend had made it safely back to his kayak. Deputy Francies’ sister had fallen once again into the lake while the rescue attempts were being concentrated on Deputy Francie. She was able to get onto her kayak but was struggling to get back to shore against the strong wind. Someone on a motorized personal water craft was able to assist her safely back to shore.
The South Lake Tahoe Police Department recognizes that Deputy Carlos Francies acted heroically in laying down his own life in his attempt to save another here in our city. We are deeply saddened at the loss of this brave public servant, and extend our deepest condolences to his family, to his agency and to his community.