Authorities heed warnings after 8 rescued from American River, 10 assisted on Folsom Lake in 72-hours


Even with cooler temperatures and numerous warnings of water dangers, first responders from Sacramento Metro, Folsom Fire and California State Parks had a very busy Memorial Day weekend responding to multiple emergencies on both the American River and Folsom Lake.  By nightfall on Memorial Day, a total of 18 different people had been successfully rescued or rescued over a three day period. 

The most recent incident occurred Monday afternoon on Folsom Lake in Granite Bay. 


Lifeguards from California State Parks assisted and reportedly provided medical treatment to a group of 10 boaters who jumped from their vessel off shore when it became non-operational for unknown reasons before they reached the boat ramp area. 

According to details from State Park’s lifeguards on site, the group thought they would be able to swim to the shoreline but quickly fell victim to the extremely low water temperature and had difficulty. Very few details on the multiple types of medical attention that was administered to each individual, according to radio traffic at the time of the incident excess water ingestion and hypothermia were two of the concerning factors. 


The ages of those assisted have not been released. According to State Parks, alcohol may have been a factor in the incident and none of those assisted were wearing life jackets at the time. 


On Sunday afternoon, Sacramento Metro Fire responded to a call on the American River west of Nimbus Damn ,where a group of six people had fallen from their paddle boards. 

At approximately 2:30 pm, units were dispatched to the area of River Bend Park where the victims had been swept toward.  Units located the party by helicopter, three of them had managed to get to the shoreline, while the three were still stranded in the water needing assistance. 


In this incident, all of those needing assistance were reportedly wearing life jackets but struggled in the current and cold temperatures.

The incidents were the first in the area to occur over Memorial Day weekend, a time when many people tend to flock to waterways to enjoy the sunshine and vacation.  

Agencies throughout the region have issued warnings urging the public to stay out of the water due to dangerous conditions such as deep water and strong currents that can lead to accidents. 

On Saturday night, the Memorial Day weekend emergencies began when unites from both the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District and Folsom performed a successful rescue of a mother  and a child from the waters off the American River Parkway.

According to the report, the kayak the victims were traveling in overturned near the Harrington boat ramp Saturday evening. It was a mother and child that were rescued.

After a fast response by the multiple agencies, including Sac. Metro Boat 65 and Folsom’s Boat 65, both individuals were able to make it back to shore safely without injuries.

Just prior to the busy holiday weekend, last week, first responders from the Cosumnes Fire District and Folsom successfully rescued a young adult man who was stranded in fast moving waters near Rancho Murieta. It was the collaborative work of Cosumnes Fire District and Folsom firefighters that strategically reached the 18-year-old man that had been swept away by the strong current and was clinging to a tree in an area of fast-moving current. 

As temperatures rise in the days ahead, it is expected more will take to the local waterways to cool off. Authorities are continuing to heed warnings of the dangerous conditions that include colder than usual water temperatures and swift currents. 

“Cold rivers are dangerous rivers, and right now the American River is running colder than most people realize,” said Liz Bellas, Director of Regional Parks. “Water flowing through the American River right now is in the low 50 degrees. We typically see water in the high 50’s, low 60’s-degree range at this time of year.” 

Extremely cold water drains body heat up to four times faster than cold air. When your body hits cold water, ‘cold shock’ can cause dramatic changes in breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. The sudden gasp and rapid breathing alone creates a greater risk of drowning even for confident swimmers in calm waters.

“It is important to know that the water will be cold, moving fast, and filled with debris.  Always wear a life jacket, even if you are a good swimmer,” said Assistant Folsom Fire Chief Mark Piacentini. “Fast moving water combined with colder temperatures can quickly incapacitate even the strongest of swimmers.”

Another mistake many make when enjoying a day at the river or lake, is becoming impaired during the day. Doing so, isn’t going to help you in an emergency situation. 

“Do not mix alcohol and drugs when recreating around the waterways.  These can impair your judgement and your abilities to recognize danger,” said Picentini, who noted this doesn’t only apply to those going in the water, but those watching children and others from the shoreline, staying sharp and focused could save a life. “Keep a close eye on children.  Moving water is much more dangerous that static water like a swimming pool.”

When it comes to wearing life jackets, cost may be a factor for some families. Locally, California State Parks has kiosks at the shoreline of several recreation areas offering loaner life jackets. Additonally, you can check out life jackets for both adults and children for free at Folsom Fire Station #35 located at 35 Glenn Drive in Folsom.  Making a quick stop by the station on the way to your outing could be a life-saving decision. Copyright Folsom Times,All Town Media LLC.

Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan

Bill Sullivan has over 25 years of professional journalism and content creation experience in which he has earned 37 professional awards. He is the co-founder/publisher of Folsom Times an All Town Media LLC product.