A man found submerged in the American River by rescue teams on Tuesday has died, the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office said.
He was identified as Rancho Cordova resident Shaun Orchid, 39. His wife, Janelle Orchid, says he owned a local tile and floor cleaning company and was also a father to their two young children —Jase, 2, and Kallie, 1.
Their daughter celebrated her birthday a week prior to Orchid’s death.
“It was just really, really shocking and devastating,” Janelle Orchid said. “I have two small children that are going to grow up without a father and probably won't have any memory of him because of their ages.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
The Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District responded to the incident around 3 p.m. after receiving an initial report from someone on a nearby boat, said Capt. Chris Vestal, a spokesman for the department. The caller told dispatchers that Orchid fell into the river from a fishing boat at Sailor Bar, a popular fishing and rafting spot near Nimbus Dam.
They found Orchid underwater and airlifted him to a local hospital, Vestal said. The department later determined Orchid was not in a boat before the incident, but instead fishing on the shore, Vestal said.
“He at some point became compromised by the water, we don’t know exactly why,” Vestal said, adding that Orchid was not wearing a life jacket at the time. The Sacramento County Coroner's Office did not have an initial classification for Orchid's death as of Friday afternoon.
Orchid took up fishing about seven years ago, his wife said. The couple owned a boat, but ended up selling it to help pay for their house. Orchid recently purchased waders to continue his hobby, but was still learning to fish in them.
Janelle Orchid said her husband called her about 45 minutes before the incident and told her he was excited to go fishing. She then got repeated calls from a local hospital later that day.
“My first thought was definitely not that he had drowned and he was gone,” she said. “My focus changed (in the hospital room) and I kind of started preparing myself for, ‘Well, even if he’s alive, this is going to be very, very bad news.’ ”
A friend created a GoFundMe fundraiser on behalf of Orchid's family on Thursday. Details about a memorial service for Orchid were not finalized by Friday afternoon.
Vestal said the area's rivers were still running cold. Water temperatures lower than 77 degrees can cause physiological effects on a person, he said.