Fishing trip ends in tragedy at Kirch WMA

Kirch Wildlife Management Area - Preston, NV (Nye County)

by Nevada Department of Wildlife

Las Vegas, NV: A 65-year-old Las Vegas man died Monday after falling off his kayak during a fishing trip at the Kirch Wildlife Management Area in northeastern Nye County.

    Paul Bifulco was fishing with a friend Monday morning when he fell into the water around 10 am about 200 yards from the shore. He initially appeared to be okay as the inflatable life jacket he was wearing brought him back to the surface, but Bifulco collapsed while attempting to get back to shore and was unresponsive before emergency personnel arrived.

    Because of the windy and rainy weather and the vegetation on the reservoirs at Kirch WMA, medical personnel that arrived on scene first were unable to locate the victim and his friend. Nevada Game Warden John Anderson arrived at the WMA around 1 pm and was able to determine where the two men were. He waded out into the cold water and found them in a section of the reservoir that was roughly four to five feet deep. Warden Anderson realized that while Bifulco had likely succumbed, his friend was also in serious danger himself. He was soon joined in the water by Jason Stevenson from the Lund Volunteer Fire Department and the two pulled the men and their kayaks to the waiting medical personnel on shore. They were also assisted by members of the Nevada Highway Patrol, White Pine County EMS, and Nevada Game Warden Scott Giles.

    “If not for the professionalism of Warden Anderson we could very well have been talking about two fatalities instead of one,” said Chief Game Warden Mike Maynard. “His ability to locate the two men quickly and his willingness to go out into that freezing water to pull them to shore very likely saved that second man’s life. He is just another example of the passion and dedication our game wardens take into the field every day.”

    Anderson reports that the weather played a part as winds prevented the second man’s attempts to tow Bifulco and his kayak into shore. The Clark County Coroner’s Office is handling the cause of death.

    The Wayne E. Kirch Wildlife Management Area is located in the White River Valley about 75 miles from Ely.

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