Valley swimmers cool off cautiously after San Joaquin River drowning

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Just two days after the San Joaquin River swept away an 18-year-old man, families are already returning to the water. But the tragedy is a sobering reminder that summer fun can turn tragic in the blink of an eye. (KFSN)

Just two days after the San Joaquin River swept away an 18-year-old man, families are already returning to the churning water.

"We're not going to chance it," Teresa Cardenas of Fresno said. "The fear of drowning, adults are drowning now, it's not just kids."

Cardenas is allowing her son to wade but no swimming. She knows how dangerous the water can be after watching a rescue years ago at Avocado Lake.

"They pulled him out, he was already drowned," she said. "His stomach was inflated, they pulled him out, they worked on him, but it was upsetting because there were so many kids surrounding, watching."

There have been at least six drownings in Central Valley rivers this year - prompting the Tulare County Sheriff to shut down access to the Tule River.

In Fresno County, the recreation area at Lost Lake is also closed because of the current's temperature and speed.

"Right now the San Joaquin River below Friant Dam is 53 degrees and when you get in water that cold, it puts your body in a shock," said Sharon Weaver of the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust.

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office is continuing to monitor water levels and says there could be more restrictions coming down in the future.

But officials say blocking off access isn't the solution to the problem.

"Unfortunately, we can't police every potential access point to the river, and that's why it's really important people are aware of water safety," Weaver said.

The drowning Saturday afternoon happened at an unmonitored access point where first responders don't recommend people to use.
Teresa says she'll make sure she uses extreme caution.

"I know CPR, and for future reference, we'll have a life jacket here and the rings with a rope just in case we have to throw it out with them," she said.

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san joaquin riverfresnodrowningFresno
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