Merced County man drowns at Don Pedro

Written by Austen Thibault, The Union Democrat August 14, 2013 11:30 am

Sheriff’s detectives stand on the Fleming Meadows Boat Launch after an extensive search of Lake Don Pedro. Maggie Beck / Union Democrat, Copyright 2013.
An 87-year-old man drowned in a boating accident at Lake Don Pedro on Tuesday afternoon.

The victim was identified as Harold Michael DePalma, of Ballico in Merced County. 

The incident was reported about 1 p.m. The Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call for a possible drowning at Lake Don Pedro, according to Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Jim Oliver.

The victim was piloting a small motorboat with his wife and daughter to the family’s houseboat, moored at a cove on the Fleming Meadows side of the lake.

He attempted to grab part of the houseboat with his hands while standing on the edge of the motorboat and fell in the water. 

His adult daughter jumped in and tried to rescue him but couldn’t find him. 

His body was found by authorities about 6:30 p.m.

Oliver said the man was likely not wearing a life jacket.

DePalma was a member of the Ballico-Cressey Elementary School District Board, according to a secretary at the district office.