A water rescue turned into a recovery effort Wednesday afternoon as Sacramento Fire Department crews and divers searched for the body of a man believed to have drowned in the American River near Tiscornia Park north of downtown Sacramento.
Fire Department spokesman Roberto Padilla said the man reportedly went into the water and tried to swim across the river, but he did not make it. He went underwater and did not resurface.
The Fire Department responded with four boats and about 30 personnel. Rescue swimmers and divers, assisted by a Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District helicopter, searched the river for signs of the man. The rescue effort began about 2:30 p.m., and shortly after 4 p.m., Padilla reported that the operation had switched from a rescue to a recovery mode.
He said searchers were fairly certain they know the area where the man disappeared. “What makes it so difficult,” he said, “is the amount of debris.”
Padilla said the river is treacherous, and he advised people not to swim or play in it. Although the water may seem calm on the surface, it is flowing fast and cold. The currents and debris below the surface pose the greatest danger.
This was the fifth water-rescue effort in the past week and a half, Padilla said. On June 24, an individual rescued by divers in the American River near Discovery Park was taken to a hospital under CPR. The individual regained vital signs, but Padilla said he did not know the long-term outcome. Two rescues occurred June 21, with individuals taken to the hospital, one under CPR. Tuesday night, Padilla said, a male was pulled from the Sacramento River near Garcia Bend in the Pocket area, and also was taken to a hospital under CPR.
Still, he said, people don’t seem to understand how dangerous the rivers are. Within sight of Wednesday afternoon’s rescue and recovery operation, he said, children and adults continued to play and swim in the river, many without life jackets.
Padilla stressed that children 13 and younger are required to wear life jackets in or near the water. Adults on boats must have access to a life jacket, and the operator of the boat must have a flotation device within an arm’s reach, he said.