A day on Lake Tahoe turned tragic late Monday afternoon at Sand Harbor State Park when a 41-year-old New York man died after he tried to save his son, who was struggling to swim on the lake's choppy water.
Martin Simmons, 41, died Monday around 5:45 p.m. after Washoe County Sheriff's Office deputies say he jumped into the water after his young son became distressed from a leg cramp. Joe Kubo, the coroner in Incline Village, said Simmons was a New York City firefighter.
Ed Lyngar, a public information officer with the Nevada Division of Wildlife, who is investigating the case because it is boating related, said Simmons was visiting Lake Tahoe on vacation with his family.
Lyngar also said Tuesday the official cause of death was drowning, which was confirmed after an autopsy by the Washoe County coroner's office was completed. A toxicology report was taken and Lyngar said results should be ready within one week.
Deputy Joe Digesti of the WCSO said Simmons sank into the nine-foot-deep water after trying to assist his 10 year-old son.
The son was airlifted by Care Flight to Renown Medical Center in Reno. The uncle, who also jumped in the water to rescue the boy, was treated at the scene and released.
Simmons was pronounced dead around 5:45 p.m. Lyngar said his body was transported to the Washoe County coroner's office in Reno for an autopsy.
Lyngar said the son were treated and released Monday night about 8 p.m. from Renown, where the boy's mother was waiting.
Alex Hoon, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, said a moderate wind was blowing out of the southwest, which would make Sand Harbor's northeast coastline the choppiest place on the lake. But, he said, winds topped out at about 25 mph, which is fairly typical for Lake Tahoe and not out of the ordinary.
"Given the direction of the wind, Sand Harbor is usually the roughest part of the lake," Hoon said. "We also see a phenomenon up there where waves bounce off the rocks on the East Shore of the lake and crash back into each other, causing greater chop."