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As Temperatures Hit Triple Digits Rafting Went ‘Wild’ at the American River

GOLD RIVER -- The triple digits brought many to the American River seeking a way to cool off; and the "Rafting Gone Wild" Facebook group also encouraged people to come to party at River Bend Park on Saturday.

That group has caused problems for Sacramento County Park Rangers in the past.

Rangers tell FOX40 the river certainly was not as crowded as it has been on "Rafting Gone Wild" days in the past, but rangers still kept pretty busy.

On a hot day like today, a plunge into the American river feels “great” as Rene Williams described it.

Williams is one of hundreds looking to escape the heat at the river.

“One of my friends, she made a post like a couple of hours ago, this morning. And I was like, you know what, let me get everybody together and like jam out, so now we're here," said Williams.

That social media rally call, which sometimes comes from the Facebook group "Rafting Gone Wild" is exactly why Sacramento County Park Rangers were out in force.

"Not as busy as years past, but it was fairly large, I think one of the rafting companies had over two hundred rafts rented out today," stated Sgt. Randy Bickel, Sacramento County Park Ranger.

Around 4:30 p.m., those rangers, firefighters, deputies and DART members were put to the test.

"Everybody was in total shock, like it was scary," explained Rhonda Yvarry

Jessica Tyo added that "everybody got out of the water for a while too."

A 29-year-old male swimmer was reported missing. His friend feared he had drowned.
Emergency crews wasted no time, but soon rangers located him on shore.

"People just didn't see him with the group, they saw him go out in the water and some didn't see him come back. They were just afraid that he might have gone under," said Bickel.

A false alarm though, rangers say the response was necessary.

With an 8-year-old drowning in the Sacramento river Friday, parents like Kristen Stephens are certainly on edge.

"You need to wear life jackets at all times. Watch your children at all times, do not leave one eye off them," said Stephens.

Meanwhile, rangers say they did not ban alcohol today like they have at past “Rafting Gone Wild” events.

"It does generate revenue for the rafting companies as well. We don't want to hurt their business," Bickel said.

Williams brought more than just booze, but she says her friends are being careful, only leaving their rafts in life vests.

"Yeah it's a mellow day, lots of family and like sunshine, ducks out so it's going to be a good day, we're going to have fun," said Williams.

Rangers tell us they only made one arrest out here today. That was for public intoxication after a man was fighting others on Gillian’s island.