Man Found Dead after Falling into American River near Confluence

Local News
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AUBURN — The Placer County Sheriff’s Office reports rescue teams found the body of a man who fell into the American River Sunday evening near the confluence.

The swift water rescue teams had continued their search Monday for 23-year-old Andy Odon Ortega Fonseca, from Sacramento. He was found dead early in the afternoon, according to the sheriff’s office.

Investigators believe he was taking photographs with his fiancee along the shore before slipping and falling into the water around 7 p.m. Sunday.

The rain and snow swollen river that runs under the No Hands Bridge make for great photo opportunities in the bright sunshine, but some visitors are rightfully cautious.

“(The water) is cold for sure, but pretty. I definitely wanted to touch it but, like, no, it’s too cold,” hiker Sami Ruddick said.

The Placer County dive team, park rangers, Cal Fire crews and a CHP helicopter were pressed into service quickly, but the odds were against them.

“Two of the challenges that we were facing was loss of light and the choppy waters,” sheriff’s office spokeswoman Angela Musallam said.

The helicopter’s infrared imaging system briefly picked up his heat signature in the water.

“We did spot it at one point but we just lost sight of it. So that’s when we thought that he was no longer floating but then got swept up underneath the waters,” Musallam said.

Some visitors were aware of what happened but others were not. Some were even doing the same thing the man was doing when he fell into the water.

“People climbing around on the rocks and hills are kind of steep, so I could see someone falling in or tripping or something,” hiker Rachel Rufdick said.

Only someone trained in water survival has a chance of getting out of the river on their own under such dangerous conditions. Being fully clothed, and possibly with camera gear on them, is a recipe for panic.

“Chances are very slim for survival at this point,” Musallam said.


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