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Swimmer drowns at Crater Lake

The body of a 27-year-old man who drowned at Crater Lake National Park Sunday afternoon was recovered Monday morning.

The man jumped off a cliff known as the Jumping Rock near Cleetwood Cove, accessed by a trail from the rim that leads to tour boats, park research boats, restrooms and an area used by swimmers.

The incident happened about 4:40 p.m. Sunday. Emergency crews from Klamath and Jackson counties along with park staff responded to the scene. Stalled Sunday by darkness, a team of divers resumed efforts to find the body Monday morning.

According to park officials, when the man, who has not yet been identified, failed to resurface, people at the scene immediately threw out a life ring. Staff from Crater Lake Hospitality, which operates the concession boat tours, went to the area in a small boat to help with the search.

After being notified, park staff quickly mobilized and hiked down the 1.1-mile Cleetwood Trail to the lake. Search efforts continued by boat but, according to a park news release, “the water was choppy and visibility was obscured. Divers were called, but due to the remote location there was not time for them to do any searching before darkness fell. After more than three hours from the time of the incident, with no sign of the victim, the search was called off for the night.”

The search effort resumed early Monday morning with divers searching in the area of the individual’s last known location. He was found about 90 feet down, on a rock ledge. Beyond that point, the lake drops off dramatically to a depth greater than 1,200 feet. The victim was transported to Klamath Falls.

Park officials noted the Cleetwood Cove lake shore is a place where every summer thousands of park visitors jump or dive into the lake and, because of the lake’s cold temperatures, usually quickly swim to shore. Park staff said they are unaware of any previous drownings in the area.

The average temperature of the lake is around 38 degrees Fahrenheit, but during the day in the summer the surface of the lake warms up to around 60 degrees. Swimming is permitted only in the area around Cleetwood Cove and along the shore of Wizard Island.

Park officials said the trail to Cleetwood Cove, the most popular trail in the park, was temporarily closed Monday while the body was transported to Rim Drive. Lake boat tours were temporarily halted but resumed later Monday.

Reach freelance writer Lee Juillerat at 337lee337@charter.net or 541-880-4139.

Photo by Lee JuilleratPeople jump and dive off Jumping Rock at Crater Lake.