Big Bear Lake, CA, August 6, 2010, 7:00pm-UPDATE as of August 7, 2010, 9:28am - A family reunion turned to tragedy on Friday as one member became the victim of a drowning at ski beach in Big Bear Lake. According to local authorities, eyewitness accounts and family members, around 5:15pm, Thomas William Winter had gone for a swim with his 6-year-old daughter, Malory, at ski beach adjacent to Meadow Park. Mr. Winter was witnessed as struggling and suddenly going under the water fairly close to shore as his daughter sat on shore. Several on-lookers had tried to assist the man including boaters who entered the water in search of Mr. Winter but to no avail. Local fire, police and Municipal Water District employees were on the scene as well as a county dive team who were helicoptered in to assist in the search. At approximately, 6:22pm, after about one and a half hours of being submerged, Mr. Winter was located by local Big Bear Lake firefighter, Kelvin McElfish who was positioned on a lake patrol boat using a device known as a pike pole to search in the water. Mr. Winter was retrieved from the lake and taken to Bear Valley Community Hospital by ambulance and pronounced deceased at 7:07pm. He was 42 years of age according to the San Bernardino County Coroner. Family members were called to the scene to assist with the young girl. Multiple family members had gathered in Big Bear for a family reunion from areas as far away as Dallas and Kansas City and as close as Escondido. Mr. Winter was a resident of McKinney, Texas. According to Sheriff Captain Greg Garland of the Big Bear Lake Police Department, this is the third drowning this year. The Big Bear Sheriff’s Department is investigating the incident. This information is preliminary and additional info will be available next week.
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