A Santa Maria woman was rescued from nearly drowning by a sheriff’s deputy Saturday afternoon at Lopez Lake.
Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Shields and a San Luis Obispo County park ranger were patrolling on the water when they were waved over by two people who were in distress at about 1:10 p.m., according to a Sheriff’s Office news release.
Shields and the park ranger were informed that the personal watercraft the people were riding had overturned and a woman was trapped underneath the water unable to free herself, according to the news release.
Shields jumped into the water and, after trying to roll the watercraft without success, he swam underneath it to find the woman.
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After several attempts, Shields was able to locate the woman. He attempted to pull her out from beneath the watercraft, but her life vest was caught on something, likely the watercraft’s handlebars. Shields was able to free the woman, and with the help of several others, was able to get her into the patrol boat.
Shields, who was trained as an EMT and was an ocean lifeguard in college, placed the woman on her side in the recovery position and assessed her condition.
The Sheriff’s Office estimates that the 50-year-old woman was underwater between 90 seconds to three minutes. The woman was conscious and breathing, but not alert.
The woman was taken to the boat launch ramp where additional county park rangers were waiting to provide medical aid. She was transported to a local hospital where she is expected to survive, according to the news release.
The woman’s name has not been released.