Fight between families at Cal Expo Raging Waters leaves man in critical condition

A fight between two families that stemmed from a beach towel at Cal Expo’s Raging Waters on Sunday afternoon left one person critically injured, according to Everest Robillard, chief of the Cal Expo Police Department.

The injured person, 35-year-old Christopher Neves of Modesto, was transported to a nearby hospital and was in stable condition Sunday evening, Robillard said. Due to the fight, the water park closed early and attendees were escorted out.

Robillard said Cal Expo police officers were called to Raging Waters at 3:28 p.m. to break up a fight involving about 40 people, not all of whom were physically fighting. The conflict was between two families, each with 15 to 20 members, according to Robillard.

When officers broke apart the fight, Robillard said, Neves was found unconscious and without a heartbeat. Paramedics arrived, performed CPR, and regained his heartbeat, according to Robillard. He was then transported to a hospital.

Robillard said the families gave conflicting accounts in interviews, but there were claims that a member of one family took a beach towel belonging to the other family.

“It started over a beach towel and then escalated into verbal insults and profanity — one family getting angry because of profanities being said in front of children,” he said. “The next thing we know of, it became physical.”

Robillard said alcohol was involved.

Cal Expo police did not know how Neves was injured, Robillard said. Cal Expo police are still investigating.

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Elaine Chen, from the University of Chicago, is a local news reporter for The Sacramento Bee. She grew up in the Bay Area and later in Beijing, China.