Volunteers prevent drownings at American and Sacramento rivers

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — While hundreds of people enjoy the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers, volunteers along the shoreline keep watchful eyes focused on the water for any sign of trouble.

Zachary Corbo is the vice president of DART, the Drowning Accident Rescue Team.

“We encourage people to do the right thing,” Corbo said.

Corbo said most drownings are silent.

“Drowning is not like what you see in the movies. It’s typically silent,” he explained. “Sometimes you’ll see some arm-flailing. Sometimes you’ll hear a scream, but oftentimes when people get to the position where they’re no longer comfortable, they’re beyond the point where they know to call for help.”

Corbo said his team saw some of those warning signs Monday.

One of the people they rescued was a young child.

“He got a good couple arm waves in, and then he started going under. By then we were already close enough to assist because we knew what we were looking for,” Corbo said. “But for the untrained eye, it’s best not to put yourself in a situation where you even think you might be uncomfortable.”

Rescuers also came to the aid of an adult male.

“We got notified today from DART that there was a jet skier that overturned and was struggling to get back onto his ski. Upon our arrival, with the assistance of DART, we assisted the gentleman back onto his ski and he was also having a minor medical issue. And once back on his ski, he was able to go back on his way,” said Sacramento Fire Department Assistant Chief Scott Williams.

Several agencies have boats patrolling these waters around Tiscornia beach and in partnership with county parks, DART has maintained a volunteer presence every weekend between Memorial Day and Labor Day since 2015.

At a park that used to be notorious for drownings, there have only been two drownings in this area since the program began, according to DART.

The volunteers also loan out life jackets and make sure they’re properly fitted.

“They just come up to them and give them one, which is really nice and sweet,” said one beachgoer.

Beachgoers who spoke with FOX40 said they appreciate the helping hands and watchful eyes.

“I think that’s great, especially the fact that they’re volunteering. They’re volunteering their own time to be out here,” said another beachgoer. “They’ve come two times to make sure all the kids have a life jacket. I think it’s very nice of them.”

One mother said she likes the option to borrow a life jacket.

“Just keep them safe because a lot of kids have drowned in the water,” she said.

“You know, folks want to do the right thing. Sometimes it just takes a little encouragement,” Corbo said.

Under Sacramento County and city code, children under 13 are required to wear life jackets while in the water at public beaches.

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