A man drowned along a remote stretch of the north fork of the American River about noon Saturday, according to the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The man, who was not identified, was reportedly attempting to help two other rafters who were having difficulty maneuvering the rapids near a run called Chamberlain Falls in Placer County, said Julie Hutchinson, Cal Fire battalion chief. The cold water gushes fast there this time of year, forming rapids that range from Class 3 to Class 5.
During the victim's attempt to help the two rafters, they hit another set of rapids that apparently caused the man to fall into the water, where he disappeared, Hutchinson said. The two surviving rafters found him later, brought him to shore, started CPR and called authorities.
Access to that part of river is extremely difficult, Hutchinson said, so a Cal Fire crew had to hike to the scene. On the way, they called for assistance from the California Highway Patrol, which dispatched a helicopter and a paramedic.
The helicopter was unable to land at the scene because of the rugged terrain, so the Cal Fire crew which was trying to revive the man had to move him downriver to an accessible landing site.
"He was pronounced (dead) by the paramedic and airlifted away," Hutchinson said. "This was a tragic day. It's the time of year when we have a lot of such incidents."
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