A kayaker was transported to a nearby medical center by helicopter after falling in the waters of the American River and an intense search and rescue effort by personnel from the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District and Folsom Fire Departments.

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At 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, units were dispatched to the 1800 block of the American River Parkway after reports that a kayaker had capsized and was missing in the swift waters, inflated by the recent storms and water releases from Folsom and Nimbus dams.

Multiple units responded to the call. Among the units were two rescue boats and two helicopters that were rapidly launched in an effort to locate the missing kayaker that had been swept away. The missing man was located by first responders and pulled from the waters. He was reportedly brought to shore near the El Manto access in Rancho Cordova, an area west of Nimbus Dam that is known for its strong currents.

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“Unfortunately, the victim was not wearing a life jacket while occupying the river, and has since been transported to the hospital by a Metro Fire helicopter in critical condition,” said a statement released by the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District.

Outside of the department noting he was critical as of Tuesday evening, the extent of the victim’s injuries and condition is unknown.

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In a separate incident Saturday evening, Folsom Fire Department and California State Parks initiated a search on Lake Natoma after a caller reported seeing a kayak that had overturned in the rapid waters near Rainbow Bridge. After an extensive search, crews only located an empty vessel and a stray oar.

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The search was called off after nightfall. In a follow up, Folsom Fire Department Chief Ken Cusano said no victim was ever located and there had been no missing person reports so it was likely that the victim found themselves to safety before crews arrived or it was an unoccupied vessel that had gotten swept away.

Following Tuesday night’s incident, officials are reminding the public of the current danger posed on the area waterways. At the time of Tuesday’s search, water flow on the American River was reportedly more than 30,000 cubic feet per second. 

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Last Wednesday evening, California State Parks issued an emergency order for the closure of Lake Natoma due to the increased currents from Folsom Dam. Such an order is put into place when waters reach a flow of 35,000 cubic feet pers second. 

As of midnight Wednesday, outflow from Folsom Dam was 26,806 cubic feet per second, Inflow into the lake had increased to 39,412. 

A kayaker was reportedly in critical condition after being rescued from the American River Tuesday evening. Photo: Metro Fire

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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.