Dozens of families, out enjoying a warm day along the Kings River, watched Sunday as a 35-year-old man struggled to stay alive in the water. Witnesses said the man was yelling for help. Two men jumped into the river to attempt a rescue, but the current was just too quick for them.
"It was pretty nerve-wracking, you know kinda of like you want to do something but you can't do much," said witness Martha Guzman. Guzman said when she heard the screams for help she called 911.
Reedley Police say the unidentified man was trying to swim to the other side of the river when, they say, he likely became exhausted.
"Everybody was just surrounded everywhere, getting hysterical. Nobody knew what to do," said Patricia Corrales of Fresno.
Corrales watched as two other men jumped into the water to try and rescue the man. But witnesses say the current was swift and pulled the man down river -- and then under water.
"They were really really close, but when everybody seen him, he started going down. He disappeared," said Corrales, "They just came back because there was nothing they could do."
Police say the man was pulled out by the Fresno County Sheriff's Office several hundred yards away. They say he was not breathing and did not have a pulse. CPR was preformed, but the 35-year-old was pronounced dead at Sierra Kings District Hospital about an hour after the 911 calls.
Luis Reyes says the man who drown had been on a raft with another person moments before he went into the water. As for the families who witnessed the drowning, they say it's a frightening reminder to be extra cautious the next time they're at the river.
Police say it does not appear the man had been drinking alcohol before he went into the water. They're not quite sure how long he had been swimming before he was swept away.
The man's identity is expected to be released on Monday.