The Stanislaus River has claimed its third drowning victim since the near record snowmelt started in May.
This time it was a woman in her 20s rafting on inner tubes with co-workers Wednesday. The rope they were using to tie the inner tubes together snagged on a tree. Two of the inner tubes hit each other, causing their occupants to fall into the water.
Stanislaus Fire District Capt. Paul Autry says the woman got caught up in the ropes and the current pushed her under. The woman’s co-workers pulled her to shore and started CPR. She was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
In May, the body of a missing elderly Modesto man who was the subject of an extensive search due to his being considered at risk from dementia, was found in Ripon near the Spring Creek Country Club.
Also in May, a man in his 20s using a raft-like inflatable that he put in the river after hiking two miles east of the Knights Ferry Bridge drowned. It happened after the man and a friend hit rapids and lost their grips.
Firefighters are on high alert as the four-day Fourth of July weekend starts with a prediction a record number of people will be heading to rivers, lakes, and beaches.
The record snowpack still has a good month of melting left. That has resulted in significantly more water in rivers this year. Not only is is the flowing faster but it is significantly colder due to the snowmelt than normal for summer. The cold water combined with swift currents along with debris carried by the heavy runoff has made the Stanislaus as well as other rivers including the Delta dicey.
There has already been a half dozen rescue efforts on the Stanislaus so far this month. They ended well as almost all had life jackets to buy valuable time for rescuers to reach them.
The Manteca Fire station on Union Road north of the 120 Bypass has a free life jacket loaner program that people are encouraged to use.
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