James J. E. McNeil died attempting to save Kelly R. McNeil from drowning, Mosca, Colorado, May 10, 2002. McNeil, 35, was fishing from a boat on San Luis Lake with his son, James, 15, high school student, and another teenage boy. As they attempted to move the boat, the high winds and choppy water caused it to tip, and McNeil was thrown into the lake. The boat began to drift away. James removed his jacket, then dived into the water. He surfaced and started to swim to McNeil, who was struggling to stay afloat in the 55-degree water, but he submerged en route. A man who was fishing at another part of the lake responded to the bank at the scene after being alerted to the accident. Removing his boots, he entered the water, then waded and swam to McNeil, who was about 600 feet out. The man held McNeil to his side as he began to return to the bank, then, although McNeil outweighed him, the man repositioned McNeil to his own back to keep him from being submerged. The man continued with McNeil to the bank. McNeil and the other teenage boy, who had drifted toward the bank in the boat, were taken to the hospital, where McNeil was treated for hypothermia. He recovered. Rescue personnel searched for James over the following two days. His body was found along the bank of the lake 12 days after the accident; he had drowned.
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