Roseville/Placer News

Sacramento man dead after 3 rafters fall into North Fork of American River near Colfax

Scene of rescue in Colfax where rafters fell into American River

On May 6, 2019, Placer County sheriff's deputies responded to the Mineral Bar Campground in Colfax to search for a couple whose raft flipped over in the river. A male identified as 56-year old David Wayne Johnson of Sacramento died.
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On May 6, 2019, Placer County sheriff's deputies responded to the Mineral Bar Campground in Colfax to search for a couple whose raft flipped over in the river. A male identified as 56-year old David Wayne Johnson of Sacramento died.

A Sacramento man was found dead after three rafters fell into the North Fork of the American River near Colfax on Saturday evening, according to Cal Fire and the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.

David Wayne Johnson, 56, was found Sunday by park rangers and recovered by Placer County sheriff’s dive teams near Lake Clementine, according to a news release by the sheriff’s office.

Crews with Cal Fire, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, Colfax Fire Department and other agencies responded about 6 p.m. Saturday to a water rescue scene near the Mineral Bar Campground, according to a news release by Cal Fire’s Nevada-Yuba-Placer unit.

The three rafters, who were not wearing life jackets, were “washed down river” beneath the Iowa Hill Bridge, the news release said.

One person managed to make it to shore and called 911, Cal Fire said. The second victim became stranded about a half-mile downstream, but was eventually located and rescued via California Highway Patrol helicopter. That person was taken to an area hospital.

The search for the third victim, Johnson, had been suspended after midnight Saturday due to dangerous rapids and “pitch black light conditions,” according to Cal Fire’s news release.

California Department of Parks and Recreation explains how to properly put on a life jacket so it fits and works. To recap, it will help keep your head above the water. If it's too big, the life jacket will ride up around your face. If it's too sm

Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.
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