Bridgeport man pulled from Fairfield's Lake Mohegan dies

FAIRFIELD — A Bridgeport man pulled by first responders from Lake Mohegan on Sunday night has died.

Police identified the victim as Geovanny Tapia-Zuniga, 33, of Bronx Avenue, who was swimming at the lake when, witnesses said, he went under and did not resurface, Tapia-Zuniga unresponsive after being found in the water and was pronounced dead at S. Vincents Medical Center in Bridgeport.

Fairfield Police said witnesses told them Geovanny Tapia-Zuniga was outside the lake’s designated swimming area — which is marked with a buoy and warning signs — when he submerged. Beyond the buoy, the lake’s depth drops quickly from 4 feet to about 20 feet.

“For those people who are not strong swimmers, it often creates a difficulty for them to get back in towards the beach,” Fairfield Police Captain Robert Kalamaras said.

According to Kalamaras, Tapia-Zuniga’s apparent drowning was the third such death Lake Mohegan in about eight years. A 39-year-old Shelton man drowned there in 2011, and a 10-year-old Bridgeport girl died in 2012.

Since 2013, the Fairfield Parks and Recreation Department has kept a watercraft parked the side of the lake to assist swimmers in distress. The lake is manned with lifeguards until 6 p.m., when the swimming area is closed. Sunday’s incident occurred after closing time.

“We’re encouraging people to only swim when there are lifeguards on duty, to only swim where they are authorized to swim,” Kalamaras said. “In addition to that, if you’re going to go swimming, swim with a buddy or take measures like personal flotation devices if you’re not a strong swimmer to assure that you can stay afloat.”

Rescue efforts began just after 6:45 p.m. Sunday after numerous callers told dispatchers at the Fairfield Emergency Control Center that a swimmer had gone underwater at Lake Mohegan.

When police, firefighters and the Fairfield Police Dive Team went to the lake on Morehouse road, they were told witnesses had tried had tried to rescue Tapia-Zuniga but were unable to do so.

Firefighters went into the water but could not find the swimmer. At 7:22 p.m., Dive Team Sgt. Jason Kline recovered Tapia-Zuniga. Life-saving efforts were begun by Fire and American Medical Rescue emergency medical technicians, and Tapia-Zuniga was rushed to St. Vincent’s. He was pronounced dead at 8:09 p.m.

A family member was overcome with emotion and was also treated at an area hospital.