A 35-year-old woman who went into the water at Discovery Park while trying to avoid an altercation with a group of transients is expected to survive, the Sacramento Fire Department said Saturday.
The woman was seen floating Saturday morning in the American River at Tiscornia Beach, at the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers, and was reached quickly because a boat from Sacramento Fire Station 2 already was on the river about a quarter-mile away when she went into the water, said fire spokesman Chris Harvey.
A county ranger recognized her as being part of a group of transients in that area and called for help after seeing her enter the water from shore, he said.
The unidentified woman was transported to a local hospital. No additional medical details were released.
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“She was trying to get away from somebody,” Harvey said. “There was a little bit of a transient group of people, and she was perhaps intoxicated or under the influence and went into the water.
“She was floating on the top and she was breathing, but she wouldn’t have been floating much longer. She was kind of unresponsive.”
The area has been the scene of multiple drownings in recent years, and this year’s tally of drownings has been especially bad. Authorities estimate 13 people have died in incidents in the American and Sacramento rivers in Sacramento County this year, twice the normal amount.
Many of the drownings have occurred at the same spot as Saturday’s rescue, although Harvey said the latest incident was not typical.
“It was not like a recreational swimmer type situation,” Harvey said.
The most recent drowning at the spot came two weeks ago, when a 19-year-old man trying to save a child from the water drowned.
The spot at Tiscornia Beach is particularly treacherous because the water is only knee- to waist-deep for many yards along the beach out into the river and draws people to walk out, assuming they are safe. Depending on conditions, people can walk out as far as 75 yards into the river without difficulty.
But there is a sudden drop-off underwater at the American and Sacramento areas of the beach, and people can find themselves in trouble quickly. An underwater canyon in the American River is up to 22 feet deep, and at the Sacramento River part of the beach the water can be nearly 80 feet deep.
Authorities have taken a number of steps to prevent additional drownings, including posting dozens of life jackets on huge signs along the beach that warn bluntly in English and Spanish: “Rivers can kill. Always wear a life jacket.” Children under the age of 13 are required to wear life jackets and volunteers with DART, Sacramento’s all-volunteer Drowning Accident Recovery Team, spent much of the summer warning parents about keeping their children safe on the water.
DART gets 100 or more calls a year and is one of the two busiest rescue teams in the nation.
Harvey said officials are hopeful the spate of drownings may be coming to an end for the year because of the onset of cooler weather that is expected to keep many would-be swimmers out of the water.