On the evening of July 3rd, 2017, Auston Strole, a twelve-year-old boy was accidentally struck by a boat which he had been tubing behind on Shasta Lake, in California. He has been unlocatable and is presumed drowned as his life vest was found floating on the water with evidence of damage from a boat prop.
After local authorities decided to scale back their searches limited to the shoreline, a friend of Auston’s family passed our information on to the Strole family. His Grandfather Steve Cobb, contacted us and asked what we required to travel to California and search for Auston. We explained that we are a nonprofit and only require travel and lodging expenses.
Later that afternoon a businessman from Reno, Nevada called. He was familiar with our two previous recoveries from Pyramid Lake in 2016. He kindly offered to pay all of the expenses for our search so we prepared to make our way.
Sunday, July 16, 2017, Beth and I left in the morning from Black River Falls, Wisconsin on our 2100 mile, 30-hour trip to Shasta Lake. This has been our longest trip to date via the highway for Bruce’s Legacy to date.
After arriving at Shasta Lake early Tuesday morning we met with family and witnesses. We had the fortunate assistance of Rich Glennon and Justin Brown who are great friends made from our previous search on Pyramid Lake. They are family and friends to two men whom we recovered from the lake in 2016 and are now valuable assets to our team. We can’t thank them enough for their help and positive attitudes. We gathered as much information as possible and began our search for Auston.
We soon found that the Digger’s Bay area had the most difficult bottom composition we have yet to experience. The steep and rapid drop offs, with a depth of up to 350’ and a plethora of random rocks, boulders and crevices made it extremely challenging for our sonar. We also had the help of our businessmen from Reno; John, and Matt from KFC Building Concepts. These two were total strangers to the Strole family and ourselves, yet knew of Auston’s situation and simply wanted to help. They provided so much wonderful support for this search and also for the remainder of our California searches. Rachel was also of considerable assistance along with John and Matt gathering information and any administrative assistance necessary.
We spent seven days working in temperatures of over 100 degrees and felt that we covered all that was humanly possible. We were unable to locate him and unfortunately decided it was time for our search to close.
The entire community of Shasta Lake was supportive and accommodating. Many people from Auston’s family and friends should be commended for their efforts and kindness. Auston’s Grandfather Jeff Strole Sr., was there every day; dawn to dusk, patrolling in a boat along with the assistance of many, many others. Auston’s family and friends were a pleasure to work with and they exhausted all means necessary to do all they could do.
THE SEARCH FOR MARCOS VASQUEZ- STAMPEDE RESERVOIR, CA
During our search for Auston Strole, John, Rachel, and Matt informed us of another nearby drowning victim in Stampede Reservoir. Marcos, 12 and his brother 14, were apparently on a trip with a church group and had ventured out on the water in a sit-on-top kayak. The vessel capsized in rough water. Marcos’s brother survived after being picked up by another boat in the area.
We headed that direction next and arrived in Truckee, CA, on Tuesday, July 25th. With almost no information available, we began our search with John and Matt assisting us on the boat. We searched depths of 200’ and after two full days of searching, combined with the local authorities having very little witness information, we had no choice but to end our search. More to add regarding Marcos later. Our prayers go out to him and his family.
THE SEARCH FOR MARC MA- LAKE TAHOE, CA
Over one year ago on June 10, 2016, Marc Ma and several friends, ventured onto Lake Tahoe on stand-up boards out of Homewood, CA from an area near the West Shore Café and Obexer’s Pier. Conditions on Lake Tahoe were not ideal at the time for this type of activity and they had problems almost immediately. Marc became separated from the group, likely in a quest to get help. Marc was an accomplished athlete and College Football player. A nearby boat mechanic at Obexer’s Pier saw the situation and retrieved the others with his boat who were in that immediate area. He then tried to locate Marc but to no avail.
The local emergency teams, Placer County Police Department and Coast Guard searched for Marc. Additionally, a different private sonar search company was called in but Marc was not located and eventually, the search was suspended.
After Marc’s accident, our information was shared with Marc’s family by a family member from another successful search we conducted. We were contacted via email by a member of Marc’s family in April of this year but were awaiting confirmation to search for him. Since we were so close in the area while looking for Auston Strole, we returned contact to the family member and given the go-ahead to search.
On Friday, July 28, we arrived and met with Sergeant Detective Dave Hunt of Placer County. He was gracious and extremely informative and helped us with a briefing on the previous work for the case. There was a video from a live webcam recording which gave us some detail as to the area of the accident. Along, with other accounts of last possible points seen, we put together our search plan. We are thankful to be joined by Justin Brown, who had just helped us the week prior in Lake Shasta. Justin’s insight and technical knowledge were a huge contribution to aiding in our search.
Lake Tahoe is the largest Lake in California by volume as well as the deepest at a maximum of 1,645’ deep. The bottom contour varies tremendously with steep drop-offs and large random rock formations as well as cliff plateaus.
We searched with sonar all day July 29th and ended with a couple of interesting targets by the end of the day. We returned Sunday the 30th to recheck our targets of interest and set up the ROV but our battle with the underwater cliffs and terrain took up the better part of that day and we were forced to wait until Monday for another go.
Monday morning, July 31st we confirmed one of our previous sonar targets as a drowning victim with the ROV and contacted Placer County Sherrif Dept. Again, we would like to thank the entire community for their help and hospitality.
We wish the Ma family and friends peace and want to let them know our thoughts are with them.