4 Women Rescued from San Joaquin River

FRESNO, Calif. It happened along the San Joaquin River in Northwest Fresno, near Palm and Nees.

Four women on two canoes went down the river and these strong currents forced their canoes to capsize. They were safe Saturday night thanks to 30 search and rescue crew members. But officials say the river is becoming increasingly dangerous.

In the air and in the water search and rescue crews from the Fresno City Fire Department, Police Department and American Ambulance spent the afternoon searching for two missing boaters.

They received a 911 call around 12:30 p.m. from two other women who say the four of them were going west on the San Joaquin River when they lost control.

"They flipped over immediately, within the first five minutes of getting in these boats and they were in the water for who knows how long before they got out," Capt. Dom Juul of the Fresno City Fire Dept. said.

Rescue divers say the temperatures in the water were a frigid 45 degrees. They add the river is increasingly cooler and elevated this year because of the increased water allotment from the Friant Dam.

Even though the women claimed to be experienced swimmers rescue crews say the river can be deceiving.

"This looks calm but it's not. It's probably a 3-4 knot current, you can't even swim against that. It's going to push and pull you right down," Capt. Juul said.

Only one paddle came back but fortunately all four women survived and are ok.

As the temperatures rise in the valley more people might be opting to head to the river for a nice cool down but officials say be extra careful out there.

"These young ladies learned a big lesson today and I think they're going to feel it later because they're not feeling it now, how close they came to dying today," Fresno Fire Battalion Chief Tony Escobedo said.

Not one of the four women in the canoes wore a life vest today. Fresno Fire Battalion Chief Escobedo told Action News that the person they rented the canoe from didn't issue them any.

They say that's the number one thing you need before you come out here.

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