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Merced deputy sheriff saves man from drowning at Lake Yosemite

A 25-year-old man who was in danger of drowning at Lake Yosemite was saved by a Merced County Sheriff's deputy this weekend.

According to the sheriff's department, Deputy Erick Macias swam to the man's rescue on July 4, after the man had apparently swam about 50 yards away from the shore.

Macias and Deputy Delray Shelton were on foot patrol around 5:45 p.m., when they noticed a group of people at the lake's main beach area, yelling for help, according to Deputy Ed Katen, sheriff's spokesman.

After spotting the man, Macias removed his equipment and entered the water. After Macias reached the panicking man, however, the deputy was pulled under the water several times. Macias was finally able to grab the man around his body and hoist him above water, allowing the man to catch his breath, Katen said.

With Shelton's help, Macias moved the man to shallow water. The man was breathing on his own, and refused medical treatment after an ambulance arrived, Katen said.

Deputies said the man swam past safety lines in the lake, which are in place to warn swimmers not to go past a designated area.

Katen said Macias will be recognized by the department for his actions.

Sheriff Mark Pazin said he's also proud of Macias, who reacted quickly to the situation without hesitation. "Fortunately, Deputy Macias happened to be at the right place at the right time," Pazin said.

Pazin said the incident is also a reminder to residents about the importance of water safety, whether it's a "standard pool or Lake Yosemite." He said swimming at the lake can be particularly dangerous because there are areas where the water's depth can drop instantly.

Macias has been a deputy with the Merced County Sheriff’s Department for two years.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or