A sheriff’s deputy who has been hospitalized since Monday after he was pulled unconscious from the waters off a Northern California beach has been declared brain dead and is being removed from life support.
Lake County Sheriff’s Department officials say doctors had determined that Deputy Jake Steely had suffered irreversible brain damage and pronounced him brain dead on Thursday. Sheriff’s officials say Steely remained on life support at Enloe Medical Center in Chico, with his family’s approval, until his organs could be donated.
Officials say the 39-year-old Steely was enjoying an outing with his family at Mendocino Headlands State Park when he and his eleven-year-old son were swept out to sea on Monday afternoon. His son, one of five children he leaves behind, was hospitalized after the ordeal, but suffered no physical injuries.
“Deputy Steely is a dedicated, committed, and caring law enforcement officer with deep roots in this community,” sheriff’s officials said in a statement earlier this week. “He is universally respected by his peers for his abilities, character, and professionalism,” the statement said.
Steely began his law enforcement career as a police officer with the Lakeport Police Department in 2007. After spending three years with that agency he was hired as a deputy sheriff in Lake County, where he had worked various assignments, including as a member of SWAT and as a canine handler.
When rescuers pulled Steely from the ocean on Monday afternoon they tried to revive him by performing CPR. Steely, still unconscious, was airlifted to the hospital in Chico, a facility about 120 miles by air from the state park.
On Sunday, Lake County sheriff’s deputies, California Highway Patrol officers and officers from other agencies will be escorting Steely’s body and his family in a procession from Chico to Chapel of the Lakes Mortuary in Lakeport.
Besides his five children, Steely is survived by his wife Lynda, his parents and several brothers and sisters.
A Go Fund Me account and an account at Mendo-Lake Credit Union in Lakeport has been set up to assist Steely’s family. As of late Friday the Go Fund Me account had raised nearly $21,000.
The incident involving Steely comes after a similar tragedy on a San Francisco beach last weekend. Two Vallejo teens disappeared in the ocean after they and three other teens were knocked down by waves and pulled out to sea at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach last Saturday. The three other teens managed to get out of the water and survived.