MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz. - Rescue crews responded to a serious incident that turned deadly at Lake Pleasant for the fifth weekend in a row, this time with a woman having her leg amputated during an incident involving a boat propeller, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) on May 21.
The incident happened in the north area of the lake around 5 p.m.
"An adult female had a leg amputation and was airlifted to the hospital in critical condition. Deputies are investigating the cause of this incident," said Sgt. Monica Bretado.
Peoria Fire and Medical says the "accidental limb amputation" was from a water-skiing accident involving the ski rope, but the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office says water-skiing wasn't involved in this incident.
MCSO says 32-year-old Tehanah Smith jumped off the boat while it was in motion to help kids in the tube behind the boat who had fallen off when she was run over by the boat's propellor
She died from her injuries hours later, MCSO says.
Investigators say there are no signs of foul play or impairment.
No further information is available.
The water sport and boating communities in Arizona are reacting to the news.
Susan Talarico is a water sport and boating expert and says it’s so easy for things to go wrong on the water.
"Pit in my stomach, honestly," she said. "It’s a hard thing to think about. I know people that have been seriously injured in ski accidents, so this hits home pretty hard."
Deadly incidents at Lake Pleasant
This incident marks the fifth incident Lake Pleasant has seen five weeks in a row.
Twenty-year-old Neria Aranbayev was found on the night of April 24, about 21 feet below the surface of Lake Pleasant. On May 1, an unidentified man's body was found 25-feet underwater near Jet Ski Point. An 83-year-old woman was thrown from a boat on May 8 and died. Her name was Rosario Benitez.
On May 15, an 18-year-old's body was recovered from the lake.
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. "We have not even hit Memorial Day."
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 upcoming 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.