Rescuers recount trying to save man, urge safety at dams - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Rescuers recount trying to save man, urge safety at dams

Lawton Police Officer Patrick Zickefoose (Source KSWO) Lawton Police Officer Patrick Zickefoose (Source KSWO)

LAKE ELLSWORTH, OK (KSWO) - Nearly 36 hours after the death of a man who was found at the base of the spillway at the Lake Ellsworth dam, investigators are still searching for answers.

First responders were called to the lake around 7 a.m. Wednesday by a fisherman who spotted the man lying in the water. When rescue teams arrived, the man was unconscious, but still breathing. He died shortly afterward. His name still has not been released, because police have yet to track down his family.

When rescue reached the scene, they had to find a way to get to him. Lawton Police Officer Patrick Zickefoose was one of the first officers on the scene, and he says they had to carry the man about 300 yards to an area where they could work on him.

"We get there and it appears he either fell, or jumped and was no longer moving,” Zickefoose said. “One officer and a volunteer firefighter from Porter Hill actually waded across the spillway to get to him."

After the man was taken away, the Lawton Fire Department was called to the scene to collect possible evidence. Lawton Fire Training Officer Jared Williams says recent flooding can make dams, like the one at Lake Ellsworth, treacherous, not just for area residents, but for rescue workers.

"Well, you know all of the dams are dynamic places,” Williams said. “There's a lot of water in place. You know this time of year we are receiving lots of rain and we just encourage all the citizens to be safe around the dams and any type of moving water at this point. Because we don't want to see anybody get hurt at the dam areas or end up in the moving waters where we would have to come out and perform a rescue."

Zickefoose says retrieving the man was difficult, because of the path they had to take.

"Well, it was a far walk to get him out. We decided to kind of actually go the long way, since it was a little easier of a hill to carry someone up. To actually get to him, we actually just had to wade out through the spill way."

Zickefoose says there are areas where you can and can't go, but even the areas that people are permitted to be, can be very dangerous.

"The spillway and the dam, it's really slick. There's a lot of algae and moss in that area. And the higher up you go, the slicker it's going to get and you can easily get hurt,” Zickefoose said.

Williams says while they are prepared for any water rescues, but the best rescue is one they don't have to make. However, they will be ready to go out and assist when needed.

Copyright 2016 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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