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Body found in Echo Park Lake after hours-long search

Los Angeles Police Department dive team members use sonar to search the bottom of Echo Park Lake nea
LAPD dive team members use sonar to search the bottom of Echo Park Lake near downtown Los Angeles on Thursday.
(Richard Vogel / Associated Press)

A body was found in Echo Park Lake on Thursday afternoon after a search that began in the early morning hours, Los Angeles police said.

Divers were swimming through the lake’s murky waters looking for a man who fell out of a paddle boat in the middle of the night and drowned, police said. Police have not released the identity of the victim.

The man and a friend were in a swan boat about 3:45 a.m. when it capsized and both fell into the lake — which at places is up to 28 feet deep, Los Angeles fire officials said.

While one of the two men swam to shore, the other remained missing for much of the day Thursday.

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According to police, the two men were part of a group of four people who went to the park after hours and broke into the boat storage area. They then took three boats into the lake.

Only the boat with two men capsized, LAPD spokesman Frank Preciado said. The people in the two other boats returned to shore and fled the scene.

When the boat capsized, “one swam to the east side of the lake, the other one was trying to swim — we have a witness who says he was yelling for help — and at a certain point, that individual went underwater,” Preciado said.

The person who went underwater has not been seen since, he said.

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By 5:30 a.m., authorities had transitioned from looking for the man as a survivor to searching for his body. Divers had to negotiate the nets, fountains, drains and murkiness that can make searching Echo Park Lake a challenge, said Fire Department spokesman Capt. Erik Scott.

The park’s paddle boat rentals close after sunset, and police said it was not immediately clear how long the men had been on the water before they capsized.

The man who swam ashore was interviewed by police and could be charged with trespassing and grand theft, police said. It was not immediately clear whether alcohol was involved in the incident.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.


UPDATES:

3:35 p.m.: This article was updated with details on the recovery of the man’s body.

10:40 a.m.: This article was updated with additional details from the LAPD.

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This article was originally published at 7:10 a.m.


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