Search Continues After a Suspected Drowning at Patagonia Lake - Tucson News Now

Search Continues After a Suspected Drowning at Patagonia Lake

By J.D. Wallace, KOLD News 13 Reporter

posted 6/26/05


As dive teams searched one end of Patagonia Lake on Sunday, there was less room than normal for lake visitors.


“(Authorities) said we couldn’t go over to that part of the lake over there.  They kept us restricted from there, so that’s why this part of the lake over here has been packed,” said lake visitor Elias Freig.


“Actually when I came into work yesterday(Saturday), everybody had a down, down face and we were all wondering, ‘Okay, what’s going on?’  And then, not long after that, a ranger came in and brought the picture of the gentleman that’s missing,” said store employee Sandee Eves.


The Santa Cruz County Sheriff says that 24 year-old Brian Melendez has been missing since he was last seen swimming about 2:30 or 3 Saturday afternoon.  As the search continues, the beach at the lake remains closed.


“Well, all we heard was that he was out swimming about 2:30, going from one side to the other, by the swimming area, and the people that were with him saw him, and, I guess they turned around, from what we hear, and when they looked back, he had disappeared,” said boater Alan Blackwell.


“Two ladies came up to our campsite with a paper, with a picture of a gentleman and herself on it.  It was like a photocopy of a picture and she asked if we had seen him, and we said no.  They had been out looking for a couple hours already.  I guess he had been swimming across the lake with a couple buddies and when they turned around, he was gone.  And, I mean, this is Sunday afternoon and they still haven’t found him,” said lake visitor Lisa Barnett.


The dive teams called it a day about 5 on Sunday afternoon, and will resume on Monday morning, on what Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada said is more like a recovery than a rescue.


“It’s always sad when somebody drowns at a lake,” Blackwell said.


For parents at the lake, the possible drowning is also concerning.


“If he can go missing that easy, the chances of my kids are even greater,” Barnett said.


The Santa Cruz County Sheriff does not suspect foul play to be a factor; however, nothing has been ruled out.  Witnesses must be interviewed, and Melendez, or his body, still has to be found.  Estrada said that most likely this is a tragic drowing.


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