Three men are missing and presumed dead after swimming out to save a boy who was caught in a swift current in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, officials said.
The grade-schooler was swept away about 2 p.m. at Three Mile Slough, a popular boating and swimming location in Sacramento County, said Battalion Chief Brandon Wilson of the Rio Vista Fire Department.
He was pulled out of the water unharmed, but three relatives who jumped in after him were pulled under while attempting the rescue, Wilson said.
“It seems to be calmer but the undertow and the currents in that area are pretty bad,” Wilson said. “They saw them go under and never saw them come back.”
By early evening, officials had transitioned from search and rescue to recovery for the missing swimmers.
The family had been swimming off Brannan Island State Recreation Area, a popular state park that would normally be packed with bathers for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, Wilson said.
“What we’ve done in the past is collected life jackets and put them out on the board back in the swimming area,” he said. “We’d have to go every weekend and restock them.”
But they ended that practice when the park was closed in April, after American Land & Leisure, a parks and campground management company, ended its contract with the state.
The coast was reopened to boaters on the weekends beginning in June. But bathers have returned in their wake.
“There was more of a swimming area towards the back that was a lot calmer,” Wilson said. “Now people are basically finding areas and just going in the water, probably not realizing how deep it is.”
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