By Alex Emslie
The Contra Costa County sheriff reports an off-duty deputy died Thursday while attempting to save a friend from drowning in Lake Tahoe.
Deputy Carlos Francies, 30, was off-duty in South Lake Tahoe with his girlfriend, his sister and another friend, according to the South Lake Tahoe Police Department. The group was out on the lake Thursday afternoon — Francies and his girlfriend on stand-up paddle boards, the other two in kayaks.
While the group was about 100 yards offshore, Francies saw his sister fall into the water, made choppy from high winds. Another in the group helped her back into her kayak. His vessel, however, had drifted away.
Francies jumped into the water to help his friend, South Lake Tahoe police report, but began “to falter and fall into distress himself.”
His girlfriend reached him with a life jacket, but he had lost consciousness.
Bystanders helped get Francies onto a paddle board, where his girlfriend, a registered nurse, began CPR.
Once ashore, in the El Dorado Beach area of South Lake Tahoe, medics took over CPR. Francies was transported to Barton Memorial Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
“Deputy Carlos Francies acted heroically in laying down his own life in his attempt to save another here in our city,” South Lake Tahoe Police Department stated. “We are deeply saddened at the loss of this brave public servant, and extend our deepest condolences to his family, to his agency and to his community.”
Sheriff’s spokesman Jimmy Lee said Friday morning the department is in discussion with Francies’ family to arrange “some type of service.”
“We’ve lost one of our family members,” he said. “We’re all devastated.”
Francies worked for the department for approximately three-and-a-half years, Lee said. He was currently assigned to the Martinez Detention Facility and was a member of the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team, which “handles emergencies within the custody environment,” Lee said.
Contra Costa Sheriff’s Sgt. Shawn Welch joined Lee at a press conference Friday morning.
“Law Enforcement, sometimes we get bad press,” Welch said, “but 99 percent of all law enforcement will do anything for anybody at any time. That’s why we put the uniform on each day.”