Standup Paddler Drowns In Lake Tahoe

A man drowned on August 23 after falling off his standup paddleboard into Lake Tahoe. Kenneth Campo, 42, of San Mateo, Calif., had both a leash and a PFD attached to his board—but not to his body—when he fell in the water and was separated from his board. The investigation into Campo’s death is ongoing.

It appears Campo “wasn’t a strong swimmer,” and that alcohol wasn’t involved, said Ed Lyngar, public information officer for Nevada Department of Wildlife.

“We know he went out and had the leash attached to the lifejacket. The board went one way, he went the other, he yelled for help and then went down,” Lyngar said.

Someone working on the shore responded, pulling Campo up from a depth of about twenty feet and then to shore. He was pronounced dead after being rushed to the hospital.

“I think cold water played into it,” Lyngar said. “We know from past accidents and from history that cold water, altitude and inexperience create difficult conditions for people that are not from Tahoe. The water’s about 62 degrees right now.”

Lyngar is increasingly concerned about the safety of the growing numbers of standup paddlers on the lake.

“We have been warning people about this for a long time. I never worry about the hardcore enthusiasts, they know they have to be safe. It’s always casual users that run into the most trouble. They don’t have fitness level, they don’t know the equipment and they aren’t using the safety equipment they should.”

After the accident, he sent a letter to the governor of Nevada urging him to consider life jacket laws and mandatory safety briefings for board rental locations. He said that the company responsible for this incident is “one of the better ones” in terms of safety.

The incident raises the age-old question: do safety precautions need to be put in place for those people that aren’t as experienced as others? What are your thoughts on leash/PFD laws? Leave your comments below or on the SUP mag’s Facebook page.

Photo Ryan Salm

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