Rescues from Fast, Cold American River Getting More Frequent as Summer Heats Up

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SACRAMENTO — Metro Fire says a fisherman fell into the fast-moving waters of the American River after having some sort of medical episode Thursday morning.

When Marvin Yuson and his family arrived at the American River from Vallejo they noticed something.

“There’s no people,” he said. “There’s no one here. Just us.”

That’s because the river’s flows are around 10,000 cubic feet per second and the temperature is at 56 degrees, Metro Fire.

“Water below 70 degrees can affect you in only a minute worth of exposure, so this is dangerous,” Metro Fire spokesman Chris Vestal said. “So we advise people if you’re not an experienced swimmer, don’t let this water fool you. It’s very deceptive this time of year.”

Metro Fire rescued the fisherman who fell in Thursday morning.

“The helicopter was able to land and then they transported him from the water to wherever the helicopter was,” Vestal said.

That man was rushed to a nearby hospital unresponsive with firefighters still performing CPR right up until hospital staff accepted him.

On Wednesday, firefighters were on another rescue as a kayaker flipped, throwing him and his dog into the water.

Both were wearing lifejackets and firefighters were able to get the man out safely.

But after being in that cold water for almost 20 minutes, according to firefighters, the man’s dog didn’t make it.

“Is it cold? We were just going off the ambient temperature today,” Yuson said.

The flows are so high that even American River Raft Rentals is closed for the time being.

And even if they’re just wading in the water, firefighters say you should keep an eye on your children.

“As fast as this water is, they can fly down the river and be out of your sight faster than you can think,” Vestal said.

Everyone in Yuson’s party had life vests and he says if things got too risky, they had a plan.

“If we catch that it’s going to be a little bit too dangerous for us, I think we’re going to go ahead and just pull off ashore and then call an uber back to our cars,” he said.

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