Two drownings, one week apart at Lake Siskiyou's Wagon Creek Bridge
Perhaps due to low lake levels, a Weed man is the second person to die after jumping from the Wagon Creek Bridge into Lake Siskiyou over past two weeks. James David Vanaltena, age 29, jumped from the bridge at about 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 27 and did not resurface, Siskiyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue reported today.
The Friday before, on Aug. 20, 21-year-old Aurdie Raheem Murphy of Teachy, North Carolina jumped from the bridge, also around 7 p.m. and never came up, LaRue said.
Both men were pulled from the water the following day from where they were found in more than 40 feet of water.
"In both these tragic instances, other people in the immediate area entered the water and attempted to rescue Mr. Murphy and Mr. Vanaltena before they submerged," said LaRue.
On both occasions, deputies and other local first responders searched the immediate area on land and in the water using boats, however, after several hours into the night, neither man was located by rescuers, LaRue said.
The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team recovered both Murphy and Vanaltena at the bottom of the lake.
LaRue reminded people that jumping from the bridge is illegal and "extremely dangerous." Signs are posted to remind people of this, he noted.
"Due to the lower water level, the bridge is much higher off the water than normal, and that increases the danger significantly," he added.
"Do not jump from the Wagon Creek Bridge at Lake Siskiyou," LaRue said.
Skye Kinkade is the editor of the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers and the Siskiyou Daily News. She is a fourth generation, lifelong Siskiyou County resident.