On Saturday, July 4, 2015, Mr. Eder Gustavo Sanchez-Perez of Modesto, California, drowned while swimming at Brandy Creek Beach in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Family members last saw Mr. Sanchez-Perez around 3 p.m. swimming in the vicinity of the Brandy Creek Beach float located about 150 feet from the shore. Family notified the National Park Service’s Lifeguards around 5 p.m. that Mr. Sanchez-Perez was missing. No one knew whether he had left the beach area on foot or was swimming at the time of his disappearance.
Lifeguards immediately closed the beach to swimming and commenced a grid search of the swimming area. Around 7:30 p.m., Lifeguards discovered his body on the lake bottom, approximately 12 feet beneath the surface. Shasta County Sheriff’s Department Dive Team recovered the body with assistance from NPS Rangers. Lifeguards estimated that there were approximately 500 people wading and swimming in the designated swimming area in the time frame of Mr. Sanchez-Perez’s drowning. Temperatures reached 106 F on Saturday and the National Park Service reported both beach parking lots were full by 11:10 a.m. Park Rangers restricted access to the Brandy Creek area around 11:00 a.m., turning back some 500 cars requiring visitors to wait up to 90 minutes until parking spaces opened.
This was the first reported drowning at Brandy Creek Beach in over 30 years. In 2010, the National Park Service, with support from the Friends of Whiskeytown, began a Free Life Jacket Loan Program. Children and adults can borrow life jackets for the day from the Lifeguard stands at Brandy Creek Beach. Superintendent Jim Milestone stated, “This was a tragic event and our sympathy goes out to the Sanchez-Perez Family. People should avoid entering the water without a life jacket if they do not consider themselves strong swimmers. Prior to the park’s Free Life Jacket Loan Program, Lifeguards performed over 40 drowning assist rescues each year. Since the implementation of the Free Life Jacket Loan Program, Lifeguard drowning assists average has dropped to the low 20’s.”