CRATER LAKE – At approximately 4:40 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18, the park received a call that a 27-year-old man had jumped off a small rock cliff at Cleetwood Cove but had not resurfaced.
People on scene immediately threw out a life ring and staff from the Crater Lake Hospitality park boat tour operation went to the area in a small boat to help with the search. Park staff mobilized quickly and responded to the location, over 1 mile down the Cleetwood Trail. The search continued by boat, but the water was choppy and visibility was obscured in the area. Divers were called, but due to the remote location there was not time for them to do any searching before darkness fell. After more than three hours from the time of the incident with no sign of the victim, the search was called off for the night.
Early Monday morning, the divers mobilized and dove in the last know location of the individual. They located the victim approximately 90 feet straight down below the surface on a rock ledge. Beyond that point, the lake depth drops off dramatically to a depth greater than 1,200 feet. The victim was transported to Klamath Falls.
The incident occurred at the end of the Cleetwood Trail at a location on the lake's shore where every summer thousands of park visitors jump into the cold lake and then quickly swim to shore. Locals refer to the spot as the “Jumping Rock.” Park staff are unaware of any previous drownings in that area.
The average temperature of the lake is around 38 degrees, but during the day in the summer months, the surface of the lake warms up to around 60 degrees. Swimming is only permitted in the area around Cleetwood Cove and along the shore of Wizard Island.