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Turlock Man Drowns in Canal

TURLOCK -- It was supposed to be an escape from the triple-digit heat. Instead, a swim in the North Prairie Road Canal just outside of Turlock turned deadly for 66-year-old David Pombo.

The Pombo family was too heartbroken to speak on camera but they told FOX40 that Pombo swam often in the canals. They’re hoping their grief will serve as a warning to others to stay away from these waterways.

“Canals are never a safe place to swim, safe place to play, including the canal banks. We always want to keep people away from them whenever possible,” said Calvin Curtin, a spokesman for the Turlock Irrigation District.

Curtin said TID has been warning would-be swimmers for years through informational videos and multiple signs posted along the canals.

“Underneath (the water) it’s moving very quickly, there’s debris in the canals, there’s structures in the canals,” he said.

Investigators with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department said Pombo and a friend went for a swim around 7 pm on Monday in the canal. Pombo got trapped underneath a drop gate. A TID worker tried to lift the gate but it was too late, Pombo had drowned.

A tragedy that unfortunately is now a warning -- never swim in the canals.

Pombo's family has set up a GoFundMe campaign for funeral expenses.

TID also offers free pool passes for children younger than 17 who can’t afford to pay for the admission to public pools.​