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Grandfather Drowns in River, Family Hopes Body will Be Recovered

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SACRAMENTO -- A local family is frustrated that their grandfather's body has not yet been recovered, three days after they say he drowned right in from of them at the Sacramento River.

"The day went so perfect. He had a job to do that day, and they cancelled so he was like alright let me go out with the grandkids and have fun," Gregory Patterson Jr. said.

He told FOX40 his father, 52-year-old Gregory Patterson Sr., drowned Saturday after he jumped into the water to cool off on a fishing trip and was unable to swim against the current back to their boat. He was not wearing a life jacket.

Gregory Jr. said he launched his boat at the Broderick boat ramps in West Sacramento and drove it along the Sacramento River all the way to Nicolaus, in Sutter County. He said when he realized his father was struggling to get back to the boat, he threw a rope out to help him, but he couldn't reach the rope.

"I look back, and then his head just goes down under the water, and then after that go into panic mode, I get the anchor in and drive over and I'm just, all my kids is on the boat with me and I'm yelling dad, dad, and uh, he never came back up out of the water," Gregory Jr. said.

Gregory Jr. said that's when he realized his father was drowning. He said he called 9-1-1 and had a difficult time identifying their location because he hadn't realized how far downstream they had traveled. He said once he started identifying structures, like the Verona Village River Resort, rescue crew arrived.

The Yolo County Sheriff's Office said their search and rescue crews were called out to the scene, as well as crews from Sutter County, Woodland and Sacramento Police. They said they searched the river immediately Saturday, but were unable to dive until Sunday because of swift water conditions.

"I just cant handle him being there in the water like that, I can't sleep," Gregory Jr. said.

Gregory Jr. said his father moved from Reno to Sacramento back in 2011 after his mother passed away and spent the past five years getting to know his grandchildren.

"Looking back, you think of things you could have done differently," Gregory Jr. said.

Though river water often looks calm on top, their currents and undertow can be deadly for even the most experienced swimmers.

Rescue crews say it is imperative for everyone to wear life jackets while at the river.

The family is holding two car washes this weekend to raise money for Gregory Patterson Sr.'s funeral. They will be at the Arco gas station at Watt Avenue and Alta Arden Expressway Saturday and Sunday afternoon. The address is 1855 Watt Avenue in Sacramento.

They have also set up a Go Fund Me Account at: https://www.gofundme.com/2g5nj3w

Search and rescue crews may return to the area along the Sacramento River Wednesday to search for Gregory Patterson Sr. again.