Just yesterday, a fun family outing took a turn for the worst on Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana, United States. Just before 4pm, Telesford Chavez-Lopez, a 50-year-old man from Kenner, went for a swim in the lake. However, he failed to resurface after going under. Up till now, he is still missing.
As the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) and the U.S. Coast Guard searched the shoreline near the area where the Bayou St. John connects with the lake, his family members clung on to one another and watched helplessly. “We just want them to find him and then we will know for sure, for there to be closure,” stated Julie Dominguez, a close family friend. According to her, the entire family were swimming together in the lake when all of a sudden, the water became very choppy. That was when all of them decided that it was time for them to get out of the lake. Eventually, everyone in the family managed to make it out of the lake and onto the shore except for Telesford. “He was out there, the current got really hard and took him under,” she said.
The family had to watch the father of four struggled to swim back in. Despite their efforts to save him, it was too late and to no avail. “The next thing I know he lifted up his arms and basically was trying to come up, he went down, came back up again, then back under the water and that was the last time we saw him,” recalled Julie. The family immediately dialed 911 for help upon witnessing what had happened. Once the U.S. Coast Guard arrived to the scene, they spent nearly up to four hours searching the water, both from above as well as by boat. In fact, the NOPD even brought in their dive and rescue team to assist in the search. However, due to the rough water conditions, it was too dangerous for divers to proceed in. Eventually, after a certain time, officials had no other choice but to call off the search for the night.
It was indeed a tough pill to swallow for friends and family who had waited around the water’s edge in hopes of a better outcome. “It is tough. There are no words to describe how it feels to lose somebody,” said Julie. For more of the story, read it here.
At Happy Fish Swim School, we would like to remind all swimmers that open waters can be extremely unpredictable. Hence, if you decide to swim in these waters, always make sure there is a lifeguard on duty and that you are within their sight. At the same time, try to stay near the shore and not venture too far out.