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Chico man drowns Sunday at Black Butte Lake

By Colin Steiner, csteiner@krcrtv.com
Published On: Jul 02 2013 12:30:00 AM CDT

Glenn CountyA Chico man drowned Sunday after falling into Black Butte Lake.

BLACK BUTTE LAKE, Calif. -

A Chico man drowned in Black Butte Lake Sunday evening after falling out of his family's boat without a life jacket.

The Glenn County Sheriff's Office and other responders were called out to the choppy waters of Black Butte Lake just after 4 Sunday night.

A family was out on their boat when 29-year-old Theodore McMorrow, of Chico, fell into the water.

Unable to get a life jacket to Theodore, his father, 57-year-old Richard McMorrow, jumped into the water to try and save him.

And while Theodore's mother, 54-year-old Susanne McMorrow, was on board, she was not able to get the boat started.

The wind and waves kept pushing the disabled boat farther away from the pair in the water.

Glenn County Undersheriff Richard Warren says that as the boat drifted, it was up to Theodore's father to keep both of them above water.

"The father did the best he could to try and keep both of them afloat," Warren says, "but due to the size of the son and the struggling and getting exhausted with the waves, he ended up succumbing to drowning."

Because of the remote location of the lake, which sits on the Tehama and Glenn County lines, it took rescuers more than an hour to reach the McMorrows.

And Undersheriff Warren says the tragic accident could have been avoided had everyone been wearing their life jackets.

"You never know, due to the heat, what's been going on, or anything like that, what could potentially cause you to become exhausted and then go under water," he says. "So the only way to prevent that is to make sure and use your personal floatation devices."

Other boaters in the area were alerted to the commotion and tried to help the McMorrows, but it was too late.

Theodore also reportedly had a mental disability, so that might have played a role.

Whether he hit his head or not when he fell is not yet known.

An autopsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of death.