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Former opera singer, son rescued after capsizing at Pyramid Lake

December 1, 2011 |  4:26 pm

A 60-year-old former Ukrainian opera singer was left singing “God Bless America” in a show of appreciation to sheriff’s deputies after they rescued the man and his son from a dam in Pyramid Lake on Wednesday night.

The Agoura Hills residents took a small, low-powered raft into the lake late Wednesday afternoon, but winds up to 65 mph capsized the 10-foot boat and pushed the men into the dam and its spillway, where they remained stranded for hours, authorities said.

After a concessionaire at Pyramid Lake reported the missing boaters about 5 p.m., the  rescue was complicated by the same heavy winds that overturned the boat.

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Deputy Johnie Jones said  authorities could not find the men by helicopter because of the heavy winds and, once located, the deputies could not reach the men by boat because of cables and buoys that blocked larger boats from getting to close to the dam.

Finally, deputies issued instructions through a public address system, while other deputies on foot moved to open access gates in the back of the dam as an escape route.   

“This was a series of bad occurrences that made this come about,” Jones said. "Luckily, everyone is OK."

The father and his 29-year-old son, who were not identified, were treated for mild hypothermia but sustained no further injuries, Jones said. It was after treatment, authorities said, that the father broke into song.


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--Matt Stevens