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LAKE PIRU | Ventura County Focus

Divers Look for Man Believed Drowned

September 29, 1997|SCOTT STEEPLETON

Divers with the Sheriff's Department Search and Rescue Team spent Sunday afternoon searching the muddy waters of Lake Piru for the body of a 30-year-old Port Hueneme man believed to have drowned earlier in the day, authorities said.

Ulysis Anthony Mendoza was swimming with family members near their boat about 2 p.m. when he called for help while struggling to stay afloat, said Sheriff's Sgt. Rod Thompson.

"His father tossed him a life preserver, but before he could get to it he went down," Thompson said. "He hasn't been seen since."

Mendoza was swimming in 18 feet of muddy, choppy water.

A sheriff's helicopter sent to search the northern portion of the lake had to land when a warning light went off indicating a problem. While a mechanic tried to correct the problem, which turned out to be minor, a second helicopter arrived, Thompson said.

When there was no immediate sign of Mendoza, search and rescue divers were called.

An employee of the United Water Conservation District, which operates the lake, said that the lake is closed to swimmers after Labor Day. "He should not be swimming, because there's no swimming at the lake now," said an employee Sunday. "They can get in the water to ski. There's just no swimming at all."

Authorities have already pulled the bodies of three drowning victims from Lake Piru this year, the most recent being that of Isidro Castillo of Newhall.

The 22-year-old cook was reported missing Sept. 1. His body was found the next day.

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