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A 17-year-old boy rescued a 12-year-old friend at Camanche Reservoir on Sunday, but the rescuer got tired, suffered a leg cramp, and drowned in waters about 14 feet deep, a Calaveras County sheriff’s sergeant said Monday.

Names of the two boys were not released. The drowning was reported at 12:25 p.m. Sunday at Camanche, off Highway 12 and north of Burson. Witnesses told law enforcement the 12-year-old went into the water near Eucalyptus Day Use Area on the south shore of the man made lake.

Minutes later, the 12-year-old began having trouble due to the uneven reservoir bottom and not knowing how to swim. The 17-year-old boy went into the water to help his friend, and the older boy grabbed the younger boy and handed him off to another nearby swimmer.

The 17-year-old was then unable to get himself to safety, a Calaveras County sheriff’s sergeant said. He became tired, suffered a cramp in his lower leg, and then he was unable to keep his head above water.

More friends called 911 for help. A Calaveras County marine safety deputy and an Amador County marine safety boat were both in the area and they began searching the area where the 17-year-old was last seen. Calaveras County Sheriff’s Dive Team members were called out.

Sheriff’s divers eventually found the 17-year-old about 30 feet from shore in waters 14 feet deep, a Calaveras County sheriff’s sergeant said.

Sunday’s fatality at Camanche was the second drowning death at Calaveras County reservoirs since mid-June.

Back on Saturday, June 13, a 26-year-old man who did not swim well went into the water at New Hogan Reservoir without a life jacket or life vest, and he was found dead by sheriff’s divers the next morning. The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office never released the name of the 26-year-old drowning victim.

Camanche Reservoir impounds the Mokelumne River, it borders Amador County, it can hold 417,120 acre-feet when it’s full, and it’s owned by East Bay Municipal Utility District. New Hogan is a 317,000 acre-foot capacity reservoir impounding the Calaveras River, it’s owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and it’s about three miles south of Valley Springs. There’s about 10 miles as the crow flies between the two man made reservoirs.


Contact Guy McCarthy at or 770-0405. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.


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