Body of missing swimmer recovered from Lake Pleasant; 6th straight deadly weekend incident for 2022

Officials with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office say they have recovered the body of a person who went missing from Lake Pleasant on May 28.

According to a statement released on June 1, the body of 52-year-old Lorne Jonassen was recovered at around 9:30 p.m. on May 31.

"Lorne was recovered in 147 feet of water with no signs of foul play," officials said in a statement.

Jonassen reportedly wasn't wearing a life jacket when he submerged near South Barker Island at around 11 a.m. Witnesses did not see him come back out.

Lake Pleasant sees a string of deadly incidents 

The incident on May 28 marks the sixth straight weekend that someone has died at Lake Pleasant,

Last week, a woman died after her leg was amputated in a boating accident on the lake. An 18-year-old was pulled from the water the weekend prior in an apparent drowning incident.

Neria Aranbayev, 20, was found on the night of April 24, about 21 feet below the water's surface. On May 1, an unidentified man's body was found 25 feet underwater near Jet Ski Point. 

An 83-year-old woman died on the lake on May 8 after being thrown from her boat.

Lakegoers reacted to news of the deadly incident.

"Oh my god that's awful. I can't even imagine," said one person at the lake.

Officials with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, which patrols the Arizona waterways, say the majority of those who went out for a fun day on the lake and never returned were not wearing a lifejacket.

"Now we’ve gotten into six deaths in a row, and a full four of those were completely preventable had they been wearing a life jacket," said Kimijo Mareska with the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Mareska wants to remind people that anything can happen when they are out on the water.

"A lot of younger guys tend to think they can swim a long distance," said Mareska. "We actually had to stop a guy yesterday from swimming a mile-long stretch of the lake here with no lifejacket," said Mareska.

As boating deaths mount, Mareska says it's time for a change.

"Our state has probably reached the point where we need to have a mandatory operator's license for a boat," said Mareska.

Mareska says no boater safety courses or permits are required before operating a boat on the water in Arizona. She believes making a change to this could help educate people and save lives. 

Safety tips while on the water

Authorities say there is zero tolerance for irresponsible boating behavior. 

"Zero tolerance. We will be citing anyone without a life jacket, Coast Guard approved, 12 years and younger. We will be doing boat checks on the water it is to keep everyone safe," said Maricopa County Sheriff's Sgt. Joaquin Enriquez.

The message is more important now than ever, especially because of the tragic events that have unfolded at the lake recently.

"There has definitely been more drowning calls early in the season," said Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Lake Patrol Det. Rob Marske. 

The sheriff's office says it's also seeing record-breaking numbers of people at the lake as many try to escape the heat, but it adds that the education to avoid tragedy starts before you get here.

As for the Memorial Day weekend, there will be extra personnel patrolling the lake.

"Gonna have two paramedics and two EMTs. All of us are rescue swimmer qualified," said Josh Carpenter with Peoria Fire and Medical Department. "On a busy weekend like Memorial Day, we will have an additional two people out here. That is an ambulance crew."

Speaking about the most recent deadly incident on the lake, Carpenter says, "any time anybody gets off the boat into the water, the motor should be off."

He says it’s not just the boat’s propellors that you should stay away from, ropes used for towing could also contribute to critical injuries.

"Whatever rope is attached to the tube or wakeboard or water ski, that rope is just as dangerous as the propeller it could get caught up in. We recently had an accident, had a patient that had that rope wrapped around her body, and it got caught in the propeller," he said.

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