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State officials in Lake George to look into weekend's drowning

Lifeguards lauded for rescue effort

Lifeguards monitor the action in Lake George at Shepard Park Beach on Labor Day — one day after after a man drowned in 8 or 9 feet of water some distance from the beach —  while visitors sunbathe, play on the beach and cavort in the water.

Lifeguards monitor the action in Lake George at Shepard Park Beach on Labor Day — one day after after a man drowned in 8 or 9 feet of water some distance from the beach — while visitors sunbathe, play on the beach and cavort in the water. Photo by Thom Randall.

— State Health Department representatives interviewed village officials and lifeguards, less than two days after a 28-year-old Long Island man died after being submerged in the waters of Lake George for about 5 minutes, authorities said.

The afternoon of Sunday Aug. 2, Raja Podapoti of Hicksville was pulled from water about 8 or 9 feet deep some distance away from Shepard Park Beach, Mayor Robert Blais said.

A statement issued by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office said Podapoti died at 11 p.m. Sunday. Authorities said the cause of death was determined to be accidental drowning.

He had been recovered from the water by lifeguards shortly after his friends reported him missing while preparing to leave the beach at Shepard Park, the statement said. Podapoti was with a group of about ten friends visiting Lake George over Labor Day weekend.

Authorities said the lifeguards administered CPR while the Lake George Rescue Squad arrived on the scene, which was within five minutes of Podapoti’s recovery, Blais said. The mayor added that the man’s friends reported he couldn’t swim, yet he had been in the water beyond the low-water barrier.

Blais said the beach was fully staffed with eight or so trained lifeguards.

“All the eyewitnesses and rescue squad members said the lifeguards acted in an efficient and timely manner,” he said.

Authorities said Podapoti’s heart began beating again in the ambulance on the trip to Glens Falls Hospital, where he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.

After the incident, swimmers were directed to get out of the water, and the beach was closed for the remainder of the day.

Monday afternoon, there were six lifeguards stationed along the beach, with their eyes fixated on the water while people of all ages swam, sunbathed and played.

Tuesday Sept. 4, the state Health Department representatives were at the beach conducting an investigation of the incident. Blais said they were interviewing lifeguards on duty Sunday to hear first-hand what happened.

“Yesterday, I met with the guards and told them how proud we are of them,” Blais said. “This morning I received emails from people on the beach Sunday commending the lifeguards for their quick and professional reactions.”

Labor Day was the last day of 2012 that the beach is officially open.

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