Scorching heat and the lure of cool river waters proved to be a deadly combination once again Sunday as a man in his early 20s became the sixth person to drown in Sacramento County this summer.
The man, whose name wasn’t released by authorities, was found in the American River by the clay banks west of the Sunrise Boulevard bridge and east of the San Juan Rapids after rescuers unleashed a major search by air, ground and water shortly after 2 p.m., authorities said.
Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District officials said a helicopter, rescue boats and paramedics were summoned after initial reports of two or three young adults missing in the river. Two young adults, a male and a female, were found safe. But they were frantic with worry over the friend who was still missing, said Metro Fire Battalion Chief Chris Quinn.
He said the helicopter crew spotted “a person in the water who appeared submerged and they directed our boat crew to the area. The boats located the victim in 5 to 10 feet of water and effected a recovery.”
He said the victim was brought to a waiting ambulance, which took him to Mercy San Juan Medical Center. Authorities confirmed Sunday evening that the man was pronounced dead.
The latest drowning was well east of the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers, the area that has been particularly deadly for swimmers this summer.
Five of this year’s accidental drownings occurred over a three-week span at Tiscornia Beach, near the intersection of the two rivers. There, steep underwater ridges, hidden debris and snags can be deadly for ill-prepared or unsuspecting swimmers.
The last drowning there was on July 19, a 24-year-old man who sank after entering the Sacramento River side of Tiscornia Beach.
The latest fatal incident came amid triple-digit temperatures. The last spate of 100-degree-plus days was July 28 and 29.
Authorities say the majority of people who drown are young men overconfident in their abilities to swim as they underestimate the forces of the water. While children 13 and under are required to wear life jackets, many adults refuse to wear them. Quinn said he didn’t know if the latest victim was wearing a life preserver.
The Sacramento Fire Department advises river swimmers to never go into the water alone or under the influence of alcohol. Experienced swimmers are advised to stay within arms length of inexperienced swimmers, while children are to be closely watched at all times.
People who want life jackets for children or adults can pick them up at these Sacramento Fire Department locations: Station 1, 624 Q St.; Station 5, 731 Broadway; Station 8, 5990 H St.; Station 11, 785 Florin Road; Station 15, 1591 Newborough Drive; Station 60, 3301 Julliard Drive. Life jackets are also available at regional parks and through the California Division of Boating and Waterways.