THREE men are presumed to have drowned after jumping in the water to save a boy in California, officials say.
The boy, 8, was swept away by a current near Three Mile Slough, a popular swimming area in Sacramento County, Battalion Chief Brandon Wilson of the Rio Vista Fire Department said.
The child was pulled from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta unharmed, however, five men jumped in after he was pulled under in an attempt to rescue him, said Wilson.
Three of the five men didn’t make it back to shore.
“They saw them go under and never saw them come back,” the battalion chief said.
Family at the scene identified the missing men as Edwin Rivas, Edwin Perez and Danilo Solorzano, local news station KCRA reported.
More California Stories
“This happened so fast, three people, my friends…and we used to come here all the time,” Juan Cabrera told the news outlet.
Cabrera was one of the five men who jumped in to save the boy.
“My heart is broken,” said Elmer Rodriguez, a family friend.
“It seems to be calmer but the undertow and the currents in that area are pretty bad,” he said.
Most read in The Sun
A search and rescue mission for the missing swimmers had turned into a recovery effort by early evening, said officials.
“This is an unguarded swim beach, so we do not have lifeguards on duty,” said Paul Wissler, captain of California State Parks.
“It’s mainly a fishing access off of an unregulated trail in the state park… this is title unguarded water, so the water was moving at the time.”
The family had been swimming near the Brannan Island State Recreation Area, a state park that’s often packed with swimmers for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
“What we’ve done in the past is collected life jackets and put them out on the board back in the swimming area,” said Wilson.
“We’d have to go every weekend and restock them.”
But that practice ended when the park closed in April after American Land & Leisure, a parks campground and management company, reportedly ended its contract with California.
Boaters were able to return to the coast when it reopened on the weekends starting in June, with swimmers coming as well.
“There was more of a swimming area towards the back that was a lot calmer,” said Wilson.
“Now people are basically finding areas and just going in the water, probably not realizing how deep it is.”
Sgt Rod Grassman, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said the child did not need medical attention.
“Deputies searched the waterways with negative results,” he said of the missing men.
Read More On The Sun
“After exhausting all search efforts, deputies shifted their focus to a recovery.”
According to the US Coast Guard, the recovery mission will continue throughout the night.