San Mateo correctional officer died from apparent drowning

The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office is mourning the death of a correctional officer who died Tuesday from an apparent drowning in Lake Tahoe.

Many of A.J. Arqueza's co-workers are grief-stricken and not at work this week, deeply affected by his passing. The department is working with grief counselors and police chaplains to cope with their sudden loss.

"He's been a valued correctional officer for a number of years now and everyone has been impacted in some way by this," said Rosemerry Blankswade of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.

The death of Arqueza has come as a complete surprise to the department, described as a tight-knight family.

Last Tuesday, Arqueza, on his day off, had taken a trip with friends to the popular beach destination spot Zephyr Cove on Lake Tahoe's southeast shore. The Douglas County Sheriff's Office said around 4 p.m., bystanders pulled Arqueza from the water. Deputies performed life-saving measures and medics tried to revive him but Arqueza later died at a hospital in South Lake Tahoe from an apparent drowning.

"He was definitely fit," said Blankswade. "It definitely comes as a shock to all of us. His immediate friends are absolutely upset by what happened."

Arqueza has been with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office since April 2017 and worked primarily in the jails. He had aspirations to promote within the department.

He previously worked for the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office. He was a U.S. Army veteran serving in the Iraq War. 

Arqueza leaves behind a wife of seven years and two young children a three year old and a five year old. He was just 34 years old.

"There's not one person in our office who doesn't feel for his family and the tragic loss we are all facing tonight," said Blankswade.

Arqueza's funeral is scheduled for July 26. Donations to the family can be made to the Deputies Sheriff's Association and the Code 30 Foundation.