Drowning in Fairfield under investigation

The beach is closed to swimmers as officials conduct their investigation after a drowning Thursday.

On Thursday evening, the Fairfield Fire Department, along with other first responders, were called out to a possible drowning at Bonnefield Lake on the cityâ??s northeast side.

When firefighters arrived, they began searching for Jesse Harl, 31, of Batavia.

Eyewitnesses told officials that Harl was swimming beyond the designated swimming area with a young girl. Harl apparently became distressed and went missing. The young girl was safely taken to shore with the help of another swimmer.

According to Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Six of the Fairfield Fire Department, Harlâ??s body was discovered a little past 8:00 p.m. and taken to the state medical examinerâ??s office so that an autopsy could be performed.

Until further notice, the lake is closed.

â??The swimming area is closed right now because we are still under an investigation of the incident that happened yesterday. Itâ??s a public swimming, no lifeguard, swim at your own risk type of beach area. It is open from dawn to dusk. But until the investigation is over with, I am sure the City of Fairfield, the Parks and Recreation Department and the Fairfield Police Department must keep it closed until further notice, being that we are under an investigation,â?? said Assistant Chief Six.

Six told KTVO that firefighters from his department as well as other first responders did respond quickly to the incident. Also assisting in the response were firefighters from the Ottumwa Fire Departmentâ??s swift water rescue unit.

Press Release from the Fairfield Fire Department

On June 12, 2012 at approximately 6:58 P.M., a 911 call was made to the Jefferson County Law Center for the Fairfield Police Department and Fairfield Fire Department to respond to a drowning at Bonnefield Lake Beach. According to witnesses, 31 year old Jesse Harl of 1719 Hackberry, Batavia, Iowa 52533 was swimming beyond the designated swimming area near the alligator with a young girl. Harl became a distressed swimmer and another swimmer retrieved the young girl taking her to safety. Swimmers in the area attempted to locate Harl to no avail.

The Fairfield Police Department and Fairfield Fire Department responded and began a search. At approximately 8:06, Jesse Harl was located and transported to the Offices of the Iowa State Medical Examiner for a determination of the cause of death pending an autopsy.

Bonnefield Lake remains closed until further notice. It usually is open for swimming from Dawn to Dusk. The lake is a swim at your own risk area and no lifeguards are present.

Assistance with this effort were the Fairfield Police Department, Fairfield Fire Department, Jefferson County Sheriffâ??s Office, Ottumwa Fire Department Water Rescue Team, Fairfield Park and Recreation Department, Fairfield Water Department, Fairfield Public Works Department, and Iowa State Medical Examinerâ??s Office