Tragic drowning at Branched Oak Lake

Posted by: Kelsey Murphy

Flashing lights and the sound of a helicopter. It's not what campers at Branched Oak Lake were expecting to hear after a day in the sun. Michael McClelland is a regular camper at Branched Oak Lake. He was walking back to his campsite with his family when he saw what was happening.

"I noticed that they had a dive team and stuff and they brought a helicopter out. They were here for quite a while," says McClelland.

That dive team was searching for 67 year old Guerrero Perales. He went missing around 8:30 Sunday night. Officials say he was out swimming in Area 10 Beach. It's the last place anyone saw him.

James Nolin was there. He was swimming in the water when officials arrived, but says he left before he saw anything.

"We were escorted off the lake. The Sheriff came across and said everybody out of the water, out of the water," says James Nolin, camper.

It took nearly 4 hours of searching. Boat responders found Perales' body in the lake at 12:30 Sunday morning.

Saturday night's accident did not stop campers from finishing their weekend, but it did make them finish it with more caution.

"It just goes to show how easy it can happen and that you really have to be careful," Says Brigid Kennedy.

McClelland wishes his daughter Madyson did not have to see the accident, he says, he is using it as a lesson.

"That's why we always tell her always go swimming with a buddy, don't ever go swimming alone, be safe out there," says McClelland.

He says its a tough way to learn, but it's a lesson she will never forget.

Nebraska Game and Parks is handling the case. No new information has been released.