A Greenwood, Neb., man was in critical but stable condition in a Lincoln hospital after nearly drowning Sunday at Branched Oak Lake.
James William Lee, 61, was in the intensive care unit at Bryan LGH Medical Center West.
Lee was not wearing a life jacket when he swam from the shore at Area 14 to retrieve his personal watercraft, which had drifted off the beach, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
Boaters found Lee face down in the water about 50 yards from the shore at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday. They pulled him from the lake and returned him to the shore. A medical helicopter transferred Lee to the hospital.
Area 14 is in the southeast corner of the lake, part of a 5,595-acre state recreation area. It is a popular spot for boaters and personal watercraft users. The 1,800-acre lake is northwest of Lincoln near Malcolm and is the largest of the Salt Valley Lakes.
Game and Parks officials said personal watercraft users should beach and secure their craft to prevent it from drifting away.