News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Deputies save men from drowning at Lake Billy Chinook

Jefferson County Deputy Marty Kaczmarek helped to save swimmers in trouble at Lake Billy Chinook on Saturday, June 26.

Kaczmarek is a resident of Sisters Country, better known locally as “Master K,” founder of Outlaw Martial Arts.

According to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were at the Crooked River boat launch at about 5:55 p.m. and observed a group of young men run from the parking lot through the park and into the water, swimming for the floating dock. Deputies thought they were racing each other until they heard someone yell that someone was drowning.

Deputy Kaczmarek reported, “I turned around and saw two people having a hard time staying afloat. One person was submerged and all I could see was the top of his head. I removed my vest and gun and jumped in the water with two other men, and we all swam out to help, approximately 25 feet out but inside the Crooked River day-use swimming area near the boat launch.

Deputy Kaczmarek continued, “One of the men and myself grabbed one victim and swam him back to Deputy [Melody] Zistel, who was now standing in the water up to her neck and helped us pull him the last 10 feet back to the shore. The victim was breathing but couldn’t talk and was totally out of breath. Three more men swam out and pulled the other person out of the water as we were getting the first victim out.”

Deputy Zistel obtained vitals and coordinated medical response. Both men were transported by Jefferson County EMS to the hospital for further treatment.

Deputies thanked all the bystanders who helped, and one woman who helped translate information between deputies and the victims, who were both Hispanic.

“Both Deputy Zistel and Deputy Kaczmarek’s quick actions, along with other civilian bystanders, directly led to at least two lives being saved tonight,” Marc Heckathorn, Jefferson County undersheriff, stated. “Thank you all for your bravery and willingness to put yourselves at great risk to save another. I couldn’t be prouder to have you both representing the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.”


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