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Riverside man drowns after falling off craft on Big Bear Lake

July 22, 2012 | 10:59 am

A 44-year-old man drowned Friday after he and his brother fell off a water craft on Big Bear Lake, authorities said.

The brothers — Cesar Espana of Riverside and 36-year-old Mario Espana of Lynwood — were riding near Eagle Point on Friday afternoon when they fell off the Sea-Doo water craft, according to the San Bernardino County sheriff and coroner's offices.

Witnesses helped pull Mario Espana, who was driving, out of the water just before 5 p.m., authorities said, but the elder Espana didn't surface. Lake patrol began combing the area with the help of a sheriff's helicopter and dive team, but the search was suspended at dark.

Divers were back in the water about 6 a.m. Saturday and found Cesar Espana's body just after 11:45 a.m., about 50 feet from where he was last seen, authorities said.

Investigators believe he accidentally drowned but said an autopsy would be conducted to determine the exact cause of death. Neither was wearing a life jacket, authorities said.

Mario Espana was not hurt in the incident.

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— Kate Mather

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