72-year-old ice skater dies after fall into frozen California reservoir

A 72-year-old man died over the weekend after a group of skaters fell through the ice on a Northern California reservoir, authorities said.

The body of William Smallfield was recovered from the Stampede Reservoir, about 45 minutes north of Lake Tahoe, on Sunday, the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Monday.

Smallfield, of Truckee, was one of eight people skating on the reservoir on Saturday afternoon when the ice cracked and six of them plunged into the water, the sheriff’s office said.

Two skaters helped the others out of the water, but Smallfield was far from the group and was seen going under the water, the release said.

An air search and dive team was unable to find Smallfield on Saturday, authorities said. Search and rescue workers and divers from two neighboring counties recovered his body Sunday, the sheriff’s office said.

Smallfield was identified on Monday. Another ice skater was airlifted to a local hospital with a dislocated shoulder and released on Saturday, the sheriff’s office said.

Although such incidents are rare in the region, according to the Reno Journal-Gazette, local officials pleaded with people not to set foot on the region’s frozen water bodies after Smallfield’s death.

The U.S. Forest Service, which controls the national forest where Stampede Reservoir is located, urged people in a news release Monday to “recreate with caution” around the forest’s frozen lakes and reservoirs.