Human toll mounts in California's rivers after boy drowns, man disappears and two bodies are found

The human toll from California’s dangerous river conditions climbed again last weekend after authorities reported a boy drowned and another person missing and the bodies of two others pulled from swift, cold waters in the Sacramento and Central valleys.

First responders and law enforcement agencies in the state’s low-lying communities have been sounding the alarm for months that as the state transitioned into spring and now summer, the historic snowpack in the Sierra Nevada was going to melt and create deadly conditions downstream.

“Please don’t become a statistic,” the Turlock Rural Fire Department put it bluntly on Facebook this weekend, after the second drowning in two weeks.

But more deaths were reported.

On Saturday morning, the West Sacramento Fire Department pulled the body of an unidentified man out of the American River under a railroad bridge. About an hour later, authorities said they were searching for another person who jumped into the river the previous night.

That same day and an hour’s drive south, a 7-year-old boy swimming with his twin brother drowned in the Sacramento River in Solano County. The boy was swimming at Sandy Beach County Park when he drowned, reported KTXL. There’s no lifeguard at the beach, so visitors are swimming at their own risk there, officials said.

The state’s Department of Public Health was compelled to make a public plea for caution on Monday as the casualty count continues to climb.

“We can enjoy all the summer fun California has to offer when we put safety first. My message is simple: no more drownings. Not this summer, not any summer,” Public Health Officer Karen Smith said in a video first published last year. “No more drownings. Not one more.”

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.


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