Darkness forced the search on Sunday for a man feared drowned in the Stanislaus River near the Highway 99 foot bridge in Ripon to be suspended until today.
The search will continue this morning unless there is confirmation he managed to make it out of the water on his own. The river is bordered by bluffs through Ripon with little beach area for rafters or swimmers to survive the swift flow.
Ripon Police and Ripon Consolidated Fire District initiated the search after being alerted the man was last seen in the water about 6 p.m. Sunday. Fire crews entered the water with their rescue team in search of the swimmer.
Sunday was the hottest day so far of the year with the 88-degree temperature luring the first significant wave of water enthusiasts this spring to rivers and as well as lakes.
Last year, three people drowned in the Stanislaus River below Goodwin Dam from Knights Ferry to Ripon in May and June when the snow runoff was the highest and coldest. Emergency personnel indicate not only do people overestimate their strength but the underestimate the strength of the current as well as fail to understand the cold water can shock their body.
The river at Ripon was flowing at 1,530 cubic feet per second on Sunday. To put that in perspective that’s the equivalent of 1,530 basketballs filled with water passing a given point in a second. During the summer flows typically drop to a third or less than what they are currently.
The water temperature peaked at just less than 56 degrees Sunday while the official gauge had the depth of the Stanislaus River at 43 feet according to data gleaned from the United States Geological Survey.
There were more than a dozen rescues in 2017 on the 40-mile stretch of the Stanislaus from Knights Ferry to the confluence with the San Joaquin River. 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.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email email@example.com.