19-Year-Old Man Dies After Going Missing During Hike and Swimming in Lake: 'Truly Heartbreaking'

·2 min read
Thousand Island Lake below Banner Peak and the blue sky, in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, California Sierra Nevada.
Thousand Island Lake below Banner Peak and the blue sky, in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, California Sierra Nevada.

Getty Thousand Island Lake

A teenager has died after going missing from a hike in California.

The Madera County Sheriff's Office revealed the tragic news in a statement on their Facebook page Thursday, saying they received a call "regarding a teenage subject who had gone missing from his hiking party near Thousand Island Lake" around 8 p.m. local time on Aug. 10.

MCSO explained that the 19-year-old — whose name was not given — was hiking with a group near the lake, which is part of the county's Ansel Adams Wilderness, when he broke off from his party around noon and "swam alone to one of the islands at the lake."

According to authorities, the teen "had been unaccounted for for approximately 8 hours" before they were contacted, "and was last seen ashore from a distance by his party."

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By the time assistance arrived in the form of a helicopter from Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore, "it was found the young man had passed away," MCSO said.

"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," they added.

In a statement, Sheriff Tyson Pogue said, "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."

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A Thousand island lake hike toward Banner Peak, Ansel Adams wilderness, Inyo National Forest, Eastern Sierra, California.
A Thousand island lake hike toward Banner Peak, Ansel Adams wilderness, Inyo National Forest, Eastern Sierra, California.

Getty Trail in Eastern Sierra Mountains

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"Incidents like this are truly heartbreaking, and some of the hardest calls we conduct as first responders," Pogue continued. "Thank you to our allied agencies for their swift efforts to assist us with this mission, and helping to provide support to the family."

The sheriff's office's statement did not note a cause of death but went on to include an advisement about the temperature of water in the area: "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," they added. "Even in the warmer months, the water is extremely cold."