Community reacts to drowning in ‘Big Blue’


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MASON CITY, Iowa – Big Blue is a hot spot for people of all ages in the summer, but it’s also a lake that also requires extra precaution

“you’re swimming at your own risk here when you’re into this quarry,” said Robert Peoble, an instructor for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI).

Peoble said while Big Blue might look like your typical lake, it actually has many hidden features

“The quarry is about 32 to 35 feet deep in the very deepest areas other than that the average is about 20 feet,” Peoble said.

Swimming in depths like that can be dangerous for any swimmer but it’s a risk many people take and last night this risk caught up to 79-year-old John Beery.

The Mason City Police Department and Fire Department were dispatched to the lake around 6:15 on Saturday night.

Patrol Officer, Josh Eernisse was on scene and said the call was in “reference to an elderly subject that appeared unconscious and was face down in the water.”

Authorities were told during the initial 9-1-1 call that several people who were on the beach at the time of the incident, pulled the man from the water and performed CPR while they waited for the paramedics

Once authorities arrived on the scene, they took over administering first aid and CPR and later took Beery to the east campus of Mercy Medical Center North Iowa where he was later pronounced dead.

The news of Beery’s death was shocking to Peoble but says that this lake can be tough to navigate if you aren’t aware of your surroundings.

Peoble says he is a firm believer of taking extra safety precautions in lakes like this because of the lack of lifeguards.

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