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UPDATE: Father and son safe after harrowing lake rescue

Adds the time of the rescue

Posted: November 30, 2011 9:16 a.m.
Updated: November 30, 2011 9:16 a.m.

Rescuers of the Parks Bureau of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department share some down time with rescued boater Alexander Vajilyev, of Agoura Hills.

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A father and son whose small inflatable boat was blown off course Wednesday afternoon on Pyramid Lake are safe today following a harrowing rescue in high winds, a sheriff’s official said.

“One of the guys is an opera singer from the Ukraine, and when they were finally on shore he sang 'God Bless America' to the rescuers,” said Parks Bureau Deputy Johnie Jones of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Reported safe today are Alexander Vajilyev, 60, and Stanislav Vajilyev, 29, both of Agoura Hills.

They were treated for mild hypothermia at the lake by paramedics from the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The pair told the rescuers their boat had capsized around 3:30 p.m. and they had clung to the boat since. Searchers spotted them around 7 p.m. and were able to pluck them from the water around 8 p.m.

The men had no life jackets. 

The high winds pushed them into dam, where they were found. 

Alexander, a former opera singer from Ukraine, was so appreciative of the efforts to save them that he sang “God Bless America” to all the rescue personnel. 

High winds had made rescuing the capsized pair, trapped on Pyramid Lake, a daunting task for Parks Bureau deputies late Wednesday.

“They got blown into the dam area and into the spillway,” Jones told The Signal this morning. “They had no life jackets and they were clinging to the boat.”

An assistant manager for the Pyramid Lake concessionaire alerted deputies to the stranded pair when she reported seeing the two men going onto Pyramid Lake but not coming back.

“She conveyed her fear to the deputies that two men in a 10-foot ‘Pond Prowler’ had not returned and were still on the lake," Jones said.

"The winds at this time were 65-70 miles and hour with  five-foot swells,” he said.

The bureau began looking for the men after another bureau employee noticed the men’s car in the parking lot at 5:07 p.m.

Deputies launched two boats and began to search for the men's inflatable, Jones said.

A helicopter was requested to help in the search, but due to the 90-mph winds at altitude, they were unable to assist in the search.

"We couldn't have a helicopter help them," Jones told The Signal.

The two men were located on the spillway near the dam with waves crashing on them near a 200-foot drop.

Rescuing deputies struggled to reach them but could not do so by boat due to the cable and buoys in the water that prevent large boats from getting too close to the dam.

In the end, they barked instructions to the two men over a public address system while other deputies made their way to the men on foot, Jones said. 




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