2 men missing in Lake Perris after tubing accident

Dive teams are returning Thursday to search for two men who disappeared into the water after a tubing accident in Lake Perris a day earlier.

California State Parks dispatchers received a distress call around 4 p.m. Wednesday reporting an accident in the boating zone just north of Alessandro Island.

The person who called in the report told responders a man was tubing behind their boat when he fell into the water and could not swim back to the tube.

Another man, who was a passenger on the boat, then jumped into the water to attempt to rescue the tuber and also began to struggle.

Both men went under the water in distress and did not surface, a State Parks official confirmed.

The unidentified men were about 45 years old, according to the official.Gas cloud prompts dozens of homes to be evacuated in West Whittier

The men were not wearing life jackets and “are presumed missing under the water,” State Park Superintendent John Rowe said.

“Today, unfortunately, is now a recovery operation. Our best efforts now are to recover both men,” Rowe said.

The boat operator, Craig Delongpre, said he was pulling one of the men, who was able to stand on the inflatable, but it flipped over.

“That’s when the problem started, he was apparently trying to right it up again, and I think what happened is he got exhausted trying to do that,” Delongpre said.

He added that he told the man to leave it and that he’d pull him in, but the man kept trying.

“I guess panic set in with him because he started drifting away from the thing … he just sank,” Delongpre said.

A woman jumped in, followed by the second man, who got a hold of the inflatable, but, “Next think you know, he was just gone,” Delongpre said.

Rowe explained that winds were blowing Tuesday when the incident occurred.

“Unfortunately, the boat was just blowing away faster than both of the victims could swim,” he said.

Lifeguards and a Riverside County Sheriff’s Department dive team were called in to assist with the search.

The rescue operation was suspended Wednesday night around 10 p.m. but resumed Thursday morning, the official said.

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