Crime - Sacto 911

Rafters plucked from pilings of American River Bridge weren’t wearing life vests

Two rafters rescued from PCA pedestrian bridge

Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District crews rescued two rafters from pilings of an American River pedestrian bridge after they fell into the swift-moving water.
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Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District crews rescued two rafters from pilings of an American River pedestrian bridge after they fell into the swift-moving water.

Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District crews rescued two rafters from pilings of an American River pedestrian bridge after they fell into the swift-moving water.

Five people – none wearing life vests – were aboard when the raft hit the PCA pedestrian bridge at Sacramento Bar near Sunrise Boulevard. Three rafters made it to shore but two grabbed onto the pilings of the old gravel company bridge.

Firefighters responded at about 11:45 a.m., according to fire Capt. Chris Vestal. The river is running fairly high and swift. The water, fed by Sierra snowmelt, is cold.

Metro Fire firefighters in a rescue boat reached the two and brought them safely to shore. Vestal said the raft was too small for the high volume of water flowing down the river.

“We have water flows that are historically high for this time of the season,” Vestal said.

Vestal said the rafters were fortunate that three could swim to shore and that the other two were able to get a good grip on the bridge pilings until the rescue boat arrived.

Vestal said he didn’t see any other boaters coming down river during the rescue. He recommended waiting for the river flow to lower before rafting down the parkway.

Anticipating an increase in whitewater rafters in a year of record precipitation, outfitting company O.A.R.S. went to the swift-running American River for a recent training session to prepare rafting guides for the high water and challenging condi

Even with free life jackets available at most beaches and lakes, many refuse to wear them and many drown.

Don't be the river’s next victim. Use the Sacramento Drowning Accident Rescue Team’s tips to save yourself from drowning.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews

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