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Safety tips recommended when visiting waterways
SC sheriff

With the drowning of a San Francisco resident at Woodward Reservoir over the weekend, local authorities are reminding people to take extra care when visiting local waterways.

The 24-year-old San Francisco man, identified as Oscar Rafael Coello-Flores, drowned on Sunday, April 21 at Woodward when he attempted to swim between two points at the reservoir but was unable to safely navigate the waters.

Multiple agencies responded to the incident. Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputies received a report of a swimmer in distress shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday, and were dispatched to Mountain View Point at the reservoir, northeast of Oakdale.

The Special Vehicle Operations Unit, as well as paramedics, air support, fire department personnel, and the Sheriff’s Office Dive Team, responded to assist with the search. The dive team was called in after initial searches for the man did not yield any results; his body was recovered by divers later in the day.

Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Luke Schwartz said Coello-Flores was trying to swim from the shore of Mountain View Point to “Area-A”. He appeared to grow fatigued, Schwartz said, and became overcome by the elements as he struggled to keep above the water’s surface.

Emergency first responders were unable to locate the swimmer in time, and he drowned approximately 45 feet away from the shore of Mountain View Point. 

Investigators with the Coroner’s Office responded and took over the death investigation, with a comprehensive forensic autopsy scheduled to be conducted.

The Sheriff’s Office death investigation is active and ongoing; authorities said they expected to learn more about cause and manner of death at the conclusion of the autopsy and toxicology laboratory tests.

“We would like to remind members of the community of a few basic water safety tips as we approach the warmer summer months,” Schwartz said.

Those tips include: Be sure to moderate your alcohol intake when swimming or boating; be mindful of your own swimming limitations; swim with a partner; and always wear a life vest.