1. Just An Average Day
As drones have become popular around the world, more and more people have started using this technology to capture their lives and the world around them. One such individual is Evan Kilkus. Like most people, he loves sharing his phoots on social media.
Evan lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. So, on one typical day, he was flying his drone over the surface of the lake in hopes of getting good shots. He was looking at the captured footage when he noticed something strange. There was something in the lake, something he had never seen before. What was it?
2. Flying Close To Home
For months, Evan had been flying his drone around the area in hopes of honing his skills. Although there are many picturesque regions all over America, there is no denying that San Francisco Bay has some truly remarkable and unique views. After all, it has diverse wildlife, pristine scenery, and everything else you need to take mind-blowing photos.
Evan also wanted to capture the beauty of the area, but not with a camera in his hand. He wanted to do it from above. He worked at a local water sports rental shop at Lake Berryessa. Working there meant that he knew the lake better than most people. At least that's what he thought.
3. Taking A Closer Look
Evan flew the drone and enjoyed the view from above. Once he had enough footage, he decided to check it out. Just like many times, he was excited to find something that he had never seen before. That's the most exciting part about having a drone; you get to see things or views most don't ever get to see in their lives.
Everything looked good, but when he scrolled through the footage, he saw something that immediately grabbed his attention. There was a giant hole right in the middle of the lake. At first, he thought it was something like a mark on the camera. But when he looked a little closer, there was indeed a huge hole.
4. Baffled Look
Evan had accidentally captured the strange sight, but even after seeing it, he was still scratching his head because he had no idea how this thing could've possibly ended up in the middle of the lake. Had this hole appeared before and nobody had noticed it? Maybe he was the first person to find it or maybe he wasn’t.
The hole was so strange, large, and scary that Evan wasn't sure if it had been there for a long time. It was scary because the water was flowing right through it to the bottom. It looked as if someone had pulled out the plug at the bottom of the lake. He started to have mixed feelings about it. There was a sense of excitement, but he was concerned as well.
5. A Second Look
Evan assumed he knew everything about the lake, but the hole was going against everything he thought he knew. At first, it all seemed like something out of a sci-fi movie. It was like Evan was looking at a portal that would take him to another dimension. After seeing something as strange as the hole, weird thoughts started to come into his mind.
He took some time to compose himself before double-checking the hole to see if he could find any clues that might answer how and why it was there. He sent the drone into the air and started to fly closer to the hole.
6. New Angles For A Clearer Look
After flying the drone for a few minutes, he finally found the hole. To his surprise, the hole seemed like it was collecting hundreds of gallons of water and was something that was very, very real.
He started to fly a bit closer to find any clue that would answer his questions. As the drone flew closer to the hole, it started to pick up all-new angles of the strange phenomenon. However, something bizarre began to happen to his drone. Things were getting creepy for Evan.
7. Unexpected Malfunctioning
As the drone was hovering above the hole, it began to play up all of a sudden. It worried Evan because his piece of tech was above the water and could easily fall into it. Then something creepy started to happen. The controls began to flash in his hands and it felt like something else was trying to take over his drone. He noticed a worrying sign when the drone started to glitch.
It was unusual because he had been flying drones for so long that something like that had never happened before. The only thought that was running on his mind was to get his drone back as fast as he could so that it didn't fall into the lake and disappear.
8. Back To Safety
Thanks to Evan's drone-flying skills, the drone didn't fall into the water. He flew it back over dry land, but he was still worried thinking about what had happened to his drone. Fortunately, the drone was back in one piece and nothing bad happened to it.
The only reason for all the strange things happening to the drone was that it was running low on battery. But it was still quite strange as it had plenty of charge left in it. Maybe the hole tried to suck in the drone and that's why it used most of its battery in an attempt to fly away from the force.
9. No Clues Whatsoever
Evan had no time to waste and decided to look through the footage once again to check if he had captured the hole. Luckily for him, the drone had captured the hole. However, Evan still had no clue about how the water was getting pulled and where it was going.
Now Evan had to make a difficult decision. He could just leave it and forget about the mysterious hole or take the risk of getting closer to it. He decided to try and get a little closer to the hole one more time. It was something he couldn't give up on so easily.
10. Getting Prepared
Now that Evan was desperate to get back out there and do more research on the mysterious hole, he had to do one important thing: charge his drone.
He knew one thing, that the drone was not going to withstand the strong pull coming from the hole. So, he had to alter his drone a little bit. He became excited to learn more about Lake Berryessa.
11. Taking To The Internet For Help
Evan was curious to know more about the lake and decided to take some help from the internet. Although the internet provides answers to many questions, no answer came close to explaining the strange hole that he had captured with his drone. Nothing anywhere seemed to help him find the answer.
Just when he was losing hope, he found one article that sort of gave him the answers to his questions. He learned from the article that the lake had been hiding some strange secrets. He also learned that the lake had a tragic history and it led him to believe that he might not have been the first person to discover the mysterious vortex.
12. Death By Drowning
Evan found that there was a woman called Emily Shwalek who died while swimming in the lake back in 1997. She was enjoying a peaceful swim when suddenly she found herself being pulled by something. It seems like she was caught in a strange whirlpool.
She tried her best to get away from it, but the pull was too strong. Unfortunately, she lost the battle after clinging onto rocks at the edge of the pool for 20 minutes. Evan knew that the similarities were too strong to be just a coincidence.
13. Charged Up Drone And Evan
Now that the drone was finished charging, Evan mustered up the courage and decided to head back to the lake to find out more about the strange hole. He knew that the internet could never answer all his questions and he needed to get back there to uncover answers by himself. In hopes of seeing the hole again, he sent the drone back into the air.
Evan could hardly believe what was in front of his eyes. The huge hole was easily around 72 feet across and Evan couldn't help but find himself going more closer to it to find how deep the hole went and what exactly was down there.
14. Curious Crowd
Evan was already getting obsessed with finding out the reason behind the hole, and soon many people started to gather around the lake as well. It is because others had also noticed the strange whirlpool that appeared out in the middle of the lake.
Some wanted to know the reason behind the hole, and others just wanted to take a photo of it. As the word spread around like wildfire, more people started to arrive, including Kevin King, who worked as an operations manager at the company in charge of the country's water facilities.
15. Telling People The Truth
Kevin wasn't drawn to the mysterious whirlpool out of sheer curiosity - in fact, he already knew about its existence. He was there to make sure that nobody got any crazy ideas to try and jump in the lake or swim up to the vortex. He was already getting nervous enough watching a drone fly close to the center...
Kevin admitted that it was quite impressive to watch the water flow into a giant hole at such a superhuman speed. Still, he realized that he needed to give people some answers before anyone tried to become an "amateur researcher" and put themselves in danger. Kevin and other members of the local authorities had to put people's minds at rest, and they knew that it was time to confess the truth.
16. A Unique Feature
An interesting fact about California is that it's a dry state that suffers from droughts quite often. It is understandable because there are not many water sources across the state. That's why there are mostly man-made lakes such as Lake Berryessa. When it was built, Lake Berryessa was one of the largest artificial lakes in the country.
Lake Berryessa was designed to be a part of the Monticello Dam in Napa County. As the dam sits between the Vaca Mountains, it helps by collecting water for the dry seasons. So, when experts were still working on the lake's design, they decided to come up with a unique feature. Hence, the unbelievable vortex.
17. Beauty and Benefits Of Lake Berryessa
Once the Lake Berryessa project completed, people started to travel from the surrounding areas to enjoy it. Most of them visited the lake to admire its sheer beauty. But the lake offers a lot more than just a good view. It plays a pivotal role in the lives of thousands of people in the area. In fact, life around the area depends a lot on the lake as it holds around 526 billion gallons of water.
Most of the water in the lake is used as drinking water and in irrigation systems. Moreover, the water from Lake Berryessa and Monticello Dam provides power for 600,000 people in the San Francisco Bay Area.
18. Incorporating Spillway Into The Design
As California doesn't get a lot of rain and mostly has hot and dry weather, the engineer had to come up with something to counter the water shortage issue and save water when there is a lot of rain in a short amount of time. So, the architects decided to incorporate a spillway into their design. The purpose of the spillway is to stop the water from flooding local roads and train tracks while also saving precious water.
Although most spillways are built into the walls of the dam, this time it was different. Given that Lake Berryessa is a narrow lake and the size of a typical spillway would have been too much for it, the architects had to come up with an alternative solution.
19. Coming Up With An Alternative Solution
The water that flows through the dam and into Putah Creek helps power the local area. But the problem was that it wouldn't work in case there was ever too much water up the top. This would have resulted in water running out of the sides of the lake which could cause massive flooding for the surrounding area. It became a major challenge for the engineers as they could not come up with a feasible solution.
But then they came up with a new idea that could help transfer the water instead. So, the team of engineers started working on creating a funnel that meant that all the extra water in the lake could easily flow into Putah Creek. Most people living in the surrounding areas never knew about that funnel and the authorities thought it would be best to keep it as a secret.
20. Battling The Worst Drought
The spillway was never used often because Lake Berryessa's water lever remained pretty stable. But California was in a state of emergency. It was battling the worst drought in ages and, to make matters worse, there had been no significant rainfall in quite some time.
Due to lack of rainfall, Lake Berryessa's spillway got exposed. It fascinated many people in the surrounding area who wanted to find out more about the bell-mouth entrance to the spillway. Some teenagers even talked about using it as their skateboarding pipe, which was obviously dangerous.
As California was batting with the worst drought it had seen in over a decade, people were praying for rain to arrive and help fight off drought issues. After all, not getting rain soon enough could have put all of them in danger and even cause some irreversible effects.
The Napa region in the state is best known for producing world-famous grapes used for many purposes. But lack of rain meant that farmers were suffering badly as they were getting hit hard by the unusually dry weather. Thankfully, the rainstorms finally arrived and everything started to come back to normal. While people were celebrating the arrival of some wetter days, something strange was happening in Lake Berryessa.
22. Fulfilling Purpose
The purpose behind designing the spillway at Lake Berryessa was that it would start working whenever the water level reaches more than 440 feet over sea level. Due to rain, the water level started to rise and the spillway jumped into action as soon as the water started to pour over its edge. It all seemed like someone had pulled the plug of a giant bathtub. The water stops draining as soon as the water returns to its normal level.
The giant hole is 75 feet at the top and 28 feet at the base. It means that the water drops over 200 feet into the spillway before it drains into the local creek. The hole is not just super impressive, it is incredibly dangerous as well.
23. Working On Safety
As most people looked at the hole from the shore, there was still a concern that some might try to explore it which, sadly, would likely result in them dying. However, it is not as dangerous as it looks. The engineers who designed it wanted it to function properly while still making sure that nobody would get hurt.
To make it safer, there are plenty of buoys around the edge to ensure that people don't go near it and there are also safety barriers at the side of the lake to prevent people from falling into it. Despite these safety measures, the lake still has a dark past due to Emily's death.
24. No Need To Worry
People started to worry that someone might try to go near the spillway and might even die. So, the experts had to step in to calm everyone down and clear up a few things. They explained that the hole is not a big threat if everyone follows the safety precautions.
The experts made it clear that no one should go near the hole. They believe that anyone, even someone who is a strong swimmer, will have a hard time getting themselves away from the spillway's pull. They advised everyone to stay behind the buoys and not worry about it.
25. A Rare Sight
Although Evan uploaded the footage with a lot of questions on his mind, he ended up getting the answers from the experts. But his footage helped many people from around the world to see something they might never get to see in their lives.
People were amazed as they had never seen anything like that before. Many people were as stunned as Evan when they first saw the hole. Surprisingly, people from around the world have witnessed holes like these before. It is because some countries have also adapted the bell-mouth hole.
26. Lucky Sightings
Evan was certainly lucky to see a type of spillway that not many people get to see in their lives. Luckily, he had his drone with him which helped in capturing some incredible footage that the rest of the world got to see as well. Spillways are quite beneficial as they can funnel a huge amount of water without enabling it to flow through at once. Many people were impressed by the piece of engineering that helped avoid future flooding problems.
The reason why Evan was lucky to see the spillway is that this type of spillway is not common. For instance, you can find these ones in Japan, Montana, England, and Hong Kong. Although this type of spillway is not a threat, there are some cases in which they have caused some serious devastation.
27. A Local Disaster
There is a case of sudden heavy rain causing catastrophic results quite near to the lake. For lakes not responsible for shifting as much water as Lake Berryessa the engineers weren't as careful with the design. Take an example of Lake Oroville which is located in the Sacramento area.
The lake was also built with the important component of a spillway in mind. But, the design of that spillway was different which ended up resulting in a local disaster. Due to the sudden forcing of water through the dam, 18,000 people had to evacuate as there were concerns it could burst at any moment.
28. Preventing Serious Damage
At Lake Oroville, both the main spillway and the emergency spillway were damaged. Thankfully, the dam didn't burst. The team of engineers quickly acted to repair the damage before it could cause a serious catastrophe. Evan was lucky to see a rare spillway in action.
But having an actual spillway caught on camera was something that hadn't happened before. And before long, Evan wasn't the only one who knew about it. The news of bell-mouth spillway excited so many people that they started flocking in to watch it. Evan's drone made it possible to get incredible footage.
29. Trapped In The Middle Of A Disaster
Six months after Evan amazed the world with his stunning footage of the hole, another event happened that got him back in the limelight. But this time, it was way more dangerous than before. It was just before midnight and Evan was sound asleep when a continual buzzing on the phone woke him up. He composed himself and checked the messages.
At that time, he had no idea what was happening outside. His friends and family were worried and wanted to know if he was safe. It was then he realized that he was trapped in the middle of a disaster.
30. State's Worst Wildfires
Evan quickly found out that Northern and Southern California were rapidly getting engulfed by the worst wildfires. To make matters worse, it was fall and California had already been through a long, hot summer, which meant that everything there was already dried out. What we all know about wildfires is that they are hard to stop and they spread super quickly. And it all started to look even worse once fires broke out in three different locations.
The fires continued to spread quickly across Northern and Southern California. To make matters worse, the wind around Lake Berryessa was causing more damage by helping the fires spread faster and further. It all looked completely out of control.
31. Staying Behind
Everyone living in Napa County learned about the wildfires and feared for their lives because the fires were getting out of control and were ripping through the state. The flames scared every living soul there and nobody felt safe.
People didn't want to take the risk that this thing would burn itself out. Most of them evacuated the area within the first two days. Even Evan's dad evacuated. But Evan decided to stay. While most people were scared and running to safety, something held Evan back and he decided to stay and help others.
32. Understanding Wind Patterns
Evan was also a part of the local fire safety council. So, he had the training of what to do when situations like these arrived unannounced. He knew that he needed to ensure everyone evacuated the area, while not descending into panic. Evan was determined to help.
At first, he started sending messages to everyone who lived in the area to make sure they were safe. He used social media to post updates about the state of the flames and guided people on how they needed to leave the place. He was aware of the wind patterns and understood that the fires would spread to his neighborhood.
33. Transition From Drone To Phone
The official call came in for everyone to leave the area shortly after Evan had begun warning everyone to leave as well. The state issued a mandatory evacuation notice, which meant that everyone had to leave the area whether they wanted to or not. While most people scrambled to pack their bags, Evan still refused to flee just yet.
Evan already knew that his father had taken valuable items from the home and gone to a safer place. Even if he had to go to his father's house, he had a plan for that as well. Evan didn't want to run, he wanted to stay and help his community. The high winds and smoke made using the drone impossible, so Evan moved to his phone.
34. Saving People's Lives
Due to using his drone for many years, Evan had a lot of experience in how to film in all kinds of conditions. But this time, it was something he had never experienced before. He was no longer trying to capture stunning footage. Instead, he was trying to help people and save lives.
His bravery alone was enough and then his broadcasted information helped in aiding thousands of people. Fire crews were trying their best to tackle the fire. Evan also joined the fire crew because he wanted to monitor the fires and inform people on where they would be heading next.
35. Keeping Everyone Updated
Evan was working with the fire crew along with locating where people were trapped in the hopes of saving as many lives as he could. But he soon realized that his only chance of making it out the other side was to make a plan on how to take shifts. He also wanted to document the fires. To do that, he slept at various hours and started working late into the night.
Evan's number one concern was to make sure the flames don't make it over the top of the hill, which bordered his neighborhood. He used social media to give regular updates through photos and live videos. His updates also assured many residents that their homes were still safe. However, things were not going exactly the way Evan had planned.
36. Even Makes A Selfless Act
Evan saw how things were not going as they had planned. He was no longer worried about his home, his sleep, or even his personal safety. All he wanted was to help others and assure them that their homes were safe from fires. When things started to get out of hand, he had to look for other ways to get the message to others.
The wildfires destroyed the power lines and cell towers. Evan had to use a generator while traveling between his home and his father's home. There was only one transmitter left, and still, he kept on trying to make sure people receive his message.
37. A Caring Person
Families were relieved to receive Evan's messages. While some people were worried about their homes, some were worried about their pets. Many people had to leave their pets behind in a hurry and were concerned if they were alight or not. Many wanted to know if those innocent souls were eating anything or not. So, they asked Evan if he could do something about it.
The kind and caring Evan was already handling so much, and yet he agreed to take in care of 20 pets. Among them were cats, birds, and fish. Those animals would most likely have died without Evan. But he was there to save lives and he did just that.
38. Donations for Evan
Evan's neighbors knew how much he was doing for his community. Everyone appreciated his efforts, as he helped them in a time when people were hesitant about staying behind, and he even took care of their pets. His neighbors also wanted to cover the costs he had spent to keep the neighborhood safe. So, they set up a GoFundMe page for him and raised $6,000.
But he didn't take the money. Instead, he decided to donate it to families that had lost everything in the fire. Tragically, the fires had resulted in the death of over 40 people.
39. Doing The Right Thing
Although Evan's effort got a lot of praise, he felt that he was only doing it because he felt it was the right thing to do. However, his heroic efforts helped him gain more popularity on social media. He had only a few thousand social media subscribers before it all happened.
And now, he had over 14 million subscribers. He became famous because of his drone-flying skills and capturing footage of the hole, but he now he has become a hero due to his selfless efforts.