Authorities recovered a body Monday afternoon from the American River that they believe could be a young man who went missing earlier this month after jumping into the icy waterway.
A runner near the Robie Point hiking area called around 3 p.m. Monday to report something unusual floating in the river near a Placer County Water Agency pump station. A California Highway Patrol helicopter was able to confirm the object was a body. California State Parks rangers and El Dorado County deputies used an inflatable boat to reach the location and pull the body from the river.
“The body that was recovered today was consistent with a body that had been submerged in the water for some time. It was obvious that this body did not enter the water in the last 24 hours,” said Scott Liske, the supervising ranger for the Auburn State Recreation Area.
Raymond Cabalfin Jr., 19, jumped into the water alongside a young woman on May 11 after hiking the Lake Clementine Trail near Auburn, according to video shot by friends that was briefly posted on Facebook. While the woman popped out of the water, Cabalfin was swept away, the video showed.
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The body was recovered Monday three miles downstream from where Cabalfin was last seen. Liske said Cabalfin’s family has been notified that a body has been recovered, but it’s up to the coroner to make the positive identification due to the body’s condition. There was no obvious other trauma to the body, Liske said.
Liske urged people visiting the parks system to stay out of the water. The historically large snowpack this year has produced higher and colder water flows.
“With multiple years of drought, a lot of visitors to the river forgot what it’s like with real runoff. When you jump into the cold water, it’s a shock to the system,” Liske said.
“This is all of the rivers this year from Northern California to Central California,” he said. “They are all charged with fast, cold water. We are urging everyone to stay alive by staying out.”
“But if you want to go into the water, wear a life jacket,” Liske said.