Las Vegas Metro police are continuing to investigate the death of a homeless man who jumped into the iconic Bellagio fountains on the Las Vegas Strip Friday morning and eventually died from an apparent drowning.
At least one passerby tried to save the still-unnamed victim, but could not reach him in time, according to a Metro police statement released to Casino.org.
The preliminary information that we have is: a homeless male jumped into the fountains located in the 3600 block of South Las Vegas Boulevard. A tourist jumped in to assist and was unable to reach the drowning subject,” police added.
Police and firefighters were notified about the possible drowning at 10:12 am and later located the victim. A dive team recovered the body, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
“The call remains active and investigators are on scene,” a police spokesman told Casino.org late Friday afternoon.
Metro Police Capt. Dori Koren said that, before the incident, the victim was chatting with tourists near the fountains, KSNV, a local TV station, reported. For some unknown reason, he then entered the fountains and tried to swim toward the center of the icon.
First, it appeared he had no problem in the current but then began to struggle. One nearby tourist jumped into the fountains to try to save the victim, but the good Samaritan also found the current too difficult to navigate, KSNV added.
The water in the fountains ranges from some 4 feet to 13 feet in depth, the Las Vegas Sun reported.
A tourist, Kayla Eklund, 21, called police after she and a friend saw a man talking to himself and he later jumped into the fountains. Initially, he could swim in the water and reached the middle of the fountains, and then tried to return to the side of the fountains, the Review-Journal reported.
Initially, the man was swimming “confidently,” Eklund recalled. “It was not our first thought that [a drowning] was going to happen,” Eklund told the newspaper.
But after treading water, “He started yelling, ‘Help, help, help,’” Eklund said. She said that two other men jumped into the fountain to try to save the victim.
I’ve never seen anyone die,” Eklund told the Review-Journal. “We kept thinking: What could we have done?”
It appears another person, who was not connected to the other people, also jumped into the fountains but was pulled from the water quickly, KSNV reported.
The incident happened before a scheduled 3 pm show, when water is shot into the air set to music, according to the Las Vegas Sun. Later on Friday, Capt. Koren said the incident is an “unfortunate reminder” that no one should jump into the fountains or other water facilities on the Strip, the Sun said.
The fountains are a Las Vegas landmark owned by MGM Resorts International’s Bellagio Hotel and Casino. The fountains gained attention earlier this year during Black Lives Matter-organized protests, as crowds of people assembled near the landmark.
The Bellagio reopened June 4 after months of shuttering because of the coronavirus pandemic. Upon reopening, the iconic fountains paid tribute in special performances to front line workers battling the pandemic.
On Friday when asked about the drowning, Brian Ahern, director of media relations for MGM Resorts International, told Casino.org, “We’re assisting LVMPD [Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department] in their investigation.” He referred questions to the department.