Officials: 30 rescued from American River over weekend

It’s been a busy weekend on the American River, where hundreds of rafts were floating on the water Sunday – even pink flamingo rafts, like the one Semien Santos was preparing to ride.

“This is going to be the first time. I’m excited,” Santos said, who was visiting the lower Sunrise area of the American River from Tracy.

But sometimes there’s too much excitement on the water. More than two dozen people had to be rescued by fire crews this weekend.

“Yesterday, Sac Metro engaged in six water rescue incidents,” said Diana Schmidt, an information officer for the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District.

Those rescue incidents involved “30 individuals that were pulled out of the water,” Schmidt said.

On the fast-flowing American River, running at about 3,500 cubic feet per second, it’s easy for rafts to get snagged in tree branches or debris under the water, especially store-bought devices that are more suited for a swimming pool.

And many people were not wearing life vests on the river.

Fisherman Steve Sims has seen it all from his vantage point on a footbridge overlooking the water.

“This morning, I warned a guy because the little kid didn’t have a life vest on,” Sims said.

“I said ‘Hey man, the ranger will cite you if you don’t wear a vest.’ And the guy goes, ‘Okay, thank you,’ and then they just floated off,” Sims said.

Roughly 40% of the people rescued on Saturday were not wearing life vests, Schmidt said.

She tried warning rafters Sunday about the dangers of the river.

“Where are your life vests?’ Schmidt asked one rafter.

The man replied: “We are not bringing life vests. We’re just going for it but we’re very good swimmers.”

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