Cross-country skier falls through ice in East County lake

Sheriff’s helicopter crew rescues cross-country skier from lake (Photo: San Diego County Sheriff’s Department)

SAN DIEGO — A cross-country skier was rescued by helicopter Sunday afternoon after he crashed through the ice covering a remote mountain lake outside Pine Valley.

The San Diego County Sheriffs Department received a call at 11:45 a.m. from a witness who saw the skier plunge into Big Laguna Lake — about 8 miles northeast of Pine Valley — after skiing over a section where the ice was too thin, about 75 yards from the shoreline.

The Sheriff’s Department dispatched one of its ASTREA helicopters operated by Tactical Flight Officer Deputy Michael Davis and Jr. Pilot Deputy Bill Liniewicz, a spokeswoman said, which hovered over the lake and lowered a tethered flotation device to the man, who had been able to keep his head above water for nearly half an hour. The helicopter lifted him from the lake shortly before 12:15 p.m.

A second helicopter flew the man to Sharp Grossmont Hospital. He met with deputies Monday to discuss the incident.

“We both agreed that it was the most rewarding day in our career and we definitely know that we saved a life after speaking with him,” Deputy Michael Davis said while recounting the rescue. “He’s very thankful, he was a very nice gentleman, and we’re very happy that we were able to help him in a critical time.”

Sheriff’s helicopter crew rescues cross-country skier from lake (Photo: San Diego County Sheriff’s Department)

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