Man Dies at San Juan Rapids, Emergency Crews Urge Safety on Rivers

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A 64-year-old man has died after emergency crews fly him from the San Juan Rapids in Rancho Cordova to Mercy San Juan hospital.

Sacramento Metro fire department received a call about an unconscious man at the rapids just before noon Friday. Bystanders and boat rescuers gave the man CPR, before he was flown to the hospital by Metro Fire's helicopter crew. He did not make it.

"This gentleman did not have a life jacket on, so that may be a factor in the incident," Captain Grant Russell, air operations manager for Sacramento Metro Fire Department said.

This tragic incident served as a reality check or Jennifer Hearne and her children. She said her kids always wear the free life vests provided by Metro Fire.

"I definitely don't want it to happened to our kids, so keep a close eye on them and make sure they can float at all times," Hearne said. "My worry would not be able to catch them because the current is fast and it could take me too and with a life jacket, I know he is going to be ok."

A Sacramento County ordinance says anyone under 13 must wear a life jacket when in the River. If parents forget about this rule, a patroller on a boat will give you a warning. Rescue crews know a life jacket makes all the difference.

"We hardly ever have to rescue someone who was in the river with a life jacket," Captain Russell said.

Drinking is not prohibited in the rivers. Life vests are available for free at many of the river entrances. Metro fire said they want people to practice the honor code. Just return them when you are finished with them.