Nevada woman treads water for 3 hours when sudden storm hits Lake Mead; authorities rescue 10

  • Article by: MICHELLE RINDELS , Associated Press
  • Updated: July 9, 2014 - 6:10 PM

LAS VEGAS — A Henderson woman who became separated from her family and jet ski when a sudden storm whipped up 8-foot-tall swells on Lake Mead treaded water for more than three hours before she was rescued Tuesday, National Parks Service officials said.

A game warden and a park ranger "miraculously" found the woman without a life jacket in the middle of the lake at about 8 p.m.

"She still had so much energy," parks spokeswoman Christie Vanover said. "The son said there was a guardian angel watching over her."

Officials said the rescue of the woman, who was in her 30s and had taken off her life vest to go swimming just before the storm hit, was one of 10 on the lake Tuesday evening. The unexpected storm caused rolling 5-foot-tall waves and prompted 70 calls to dispatchers.

While rangers said they expect inclement weather during southern Nevada's monsoon season, which includes July and August, "the storm just came out of nowhere," Vanover said. The National Weather Service had issued a warning about 30 minutes before the storm struck, and parks officials sent out emergency warnings to boats via radio every five minutes.

High waters sunk at least one boat, but all the occupants were able to get out safely.

Rangers said they had a scare after one missing group stopped responding to cellphone calls and wasn't found by police teams searching by air. But the group checked in with rescuers at about 11 p.m., saying their cellphone battery had died, but they were safe on shore.

"Life jackets and first responders saved lives today," Vanover said. "Visitors did the right thing when the storm came. They put on their life jackets, they moved to shore and they called for help when they needed it."

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