RIPON -- The Ripon Consolidated Fire chief says crews were navigating the Stanislaus River at Caswell Memorial State Park Tuesday after a 6-year-old girl with no life jacket and four of her family members went overboard.
It was an accident that Fire Chief Dennis Bitters says was avoidable by wearing Coast Guard approved life jackets and not using flotation toys that are solely supposed to be found poolside.
Bitters says after the little girl and her mother, who had been clinging onto a tree branch, were saved their work wasn’t over. They had to rescue five more people from drowning.
"We’ve seen babies in rafts that obviously couldn’t swim at all with no protection. And so we’re always shocked to see it but it seems to continue to happen," Bitters said.
Everyone was saved.
Chief Bitters says the water is moving so fast and is so cold, the best advice he can give is to avoid swimming in the water altogether. Some of the signs at Caswell Memorial State Park warn visitors of the dangerous conditions.
Besides the fast-moving, cold water, the chief also says the river if full of debris that can endanger swimmers.