AUBURN -- There are many advisories for hikers at the Lake Clementine trailhead along Highway 49, but one of those signs is causing people to stop and look. Nineteen-year-old Ray Cabalfin set out on that trail Thursday and never returned.
"It's just like numb -- like shocked ... I still can’t believe this is happening to our family," said Nina Cabalfin, Ray's sister.
Ray was hiking with friends on the Lake Clementine Trail and he and another friend decided to jump in the water north of Clark's swimming hole.
"She jumped in first and the water that she jumped in was calmer," Nina Cabalfin said.
"I just think he panicked when he jumped in and swam against the current," said Evan Alexander, a family friend.
Ray’s friends called 911, and CHP, the Placer County Sheriff's Office and California State Parks searched by air, land, and with divers in the water, but found no sign of the teen Thursday. However, Ray’s family says law enforcement never notified them, they didn’t hear Ray was even missing until 2 p.m. Friday when one of his friends told them what happened.
"Did we not matter at all? Why was this not shared? You know, we had to hear from a 19-year-old kid," Nina Cabalfin said.
By that time, the rescue effort was now a recovery effort. Supervising Park Ranger Scott Liske says Ray Cabalfin was presumed dead early on.
"This time of year in cold water, maybe you have an hour to survive in cold water," Liske said.
Liske said that while law enforcement has been told to look out for the body, there is no longer a consistent, active search underway.
This has created a gut-wrenching disconnect between the emergency responder's pragmatism and the family's optimism.
"And then there’s always that risking live people for an obviously dead person," Liske said.
"I don’t have that feeling in my stomach that he’s already dead… I just can't give up on him," Nina Cabalfin said.
Ray Cabalfin's family has created a GoFundMe page to help pay for search efforts. You can donate here.