River Rescues in Fresno County

July 19, 2009 11:05:45 PM PDT
Rescues blamed on the heat and people's lack of awarenessPeople did everything they could to try and save the two teens, including a stranger who pulled the fifteen year old boy from the water.

Law enforcement says these drownings should serve as a tragic reminder that when you're in the water, always be prepared.

Garrett Schaefer of Fresno was kayaking on the San Joaquin River Saturday, when his family outing suddenly turned into a water rescue.

"We had come around the bend and the 21-year-old guy had basically told us that his brother was drowning."

Fifteen-year-old Toua Vang of Fresno had been snorkeling before showing signs of distress. After jumping in to help, Schaefer found Vang underwater and managed to pull him ashore.

But after spending the night in the hospital, Vang died early Sunday morning. "Somebody else is in trouble and you try do what you can to save em. I understand he didn't make it. I wish he would have."

Saturday's drowning is one of two that happened over the weekend. Rescuers tried, but couldn't save a 13-year-old Tulare girl who was swept under a big rock in the Kaweah River Saturday.

"Hey, who lost their ice chest?"

Deputy Roberto Cervantes and his partner, Anthony Rodriguez of the Fresno County Sheriff's office patrol the Kings River every weekend, trying to prevent people from drowning.

We rode along with them Sunday. Within five minutes, we watched as they rescued this man who was clinging on to a tree after the current swept away his tube and life jacket."I know how to swim, but the current. Honestly I thought I was gonna drown. I thought that was it."

Law enforcement says most drownings can be prevented, but only if people come to the water prepared. "The thing is a lot of people don't know how to swim and that's the most important thing is if you don't know how to swim, you shouldn't be in the water. And if you do know how to swim, you should always be wearing a life jacket."

Warning law enforcement has is to be aware of your surroundings, especially if the current is strong. And don't swim when you're under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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