Details of near-fatal Truckee river fall are unclear
July 7, 2010
TRUCKEE – Details are sketchy from a Saturday, July 3, incident where a swimmer from Reno suffered near-fatal injuries after officials say he used a rope swing near the River Ranch off Highway 89 to jump into the Truckee River.
Dave Zaski, North Tahoe Fire Protection District public information officer, said the river’s low water levels led to the serious injuries. The younger male was transported to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno via CareFlight helicopter.
“That was probably the worst incident for us,” Zaski said.
The Squaw Valley Fire Department also responded to the scene.
“I believe they (a group of swimmers) were on a rope swing and swinging into the river, and there wasn’t enough water to accommodate the diver,” said Squaw Valley Chief Pete Bansen.
Dena Erwin, spokeswoman for the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, said the incident took place at about 4:30 p.m. and estimated the victim fell from about 40-foot drop onto a ridge of submerged rocks. Erwin said officers helped raise the victim’s head above water until medical crews arrived.
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Neither fire district nor the sheriff’s office could reveal more details as of press time Tuesday – including the swimmer’s name, age or current medical condition.
During the July 4 weekend in 2007, a similar incident occurred when a young man misjudged a rope swing entry into the river and hit his head on a rock, putting him in critical condition and requiring an airlift to Renown.
Bansen said other than the river incident and the rescue of an injured hiker near the Shirley Lake/Canyon area of Squaw, the region saw no other major incidents.
“The late kind of chilly spring was a big help,” Bansen said.
The Fourth of July weekend was busy for law enforcement, but that’s normal for the holiday, said area officers.
Truckee Police Sgt. Robert Womack said the department had a total of seven DUI arrests – two at a checkpoint Friday night on Donner Pass Road, one as a result of an injury collision, and others around town.
“We didn’t really see anything special for a Fourth of July weekend,” Womack said.
The checkpoint, run with California Highway Patrol, also netted Truckee Police two arrests for alleged possession of narcotics, Womack said, but the holiday weekend had fewer drunk-in-public arrests than in the past.
CHP Officer Tony Prisco said the highway patrol made 19 DUI arrests over the weekend in the area, including two at the checkpoint, where he estimated between 500 and 800 cars were checked.
“It was a busy weekend, but we didn’t have any fatalities – we had accidents, but nothing severe,” Prisco said. “Pretty much routine stuff.”
“It was as crowded as ever on the west end of Donner Lake,” Womack said.
The crowds were still going as of Monday, Womack said, keeping officers busy through the start of the week.
From a fire and medical perspective, Truckee Fire Protection District Public Safety and Information Officer Gene Welch said it was an average Fourth of July.
He said the district had 16 medical calls, three assists, three fire calls, three motor vehicle accidents, a carbon monoxide call and a gas leak over the course of the weekend.
In Tahoe City and Kings Beach the Placer County Sheriff’s Office reported 16 alcohol-related arrests, with four people arrested for public drunkenness: one in Kings Beach, one in Tahoe City and two in Olympic Valley.
Deputy Jeff Power said officers responded to a vehicle burglary between Tahoe City and Truckee, a report of grand theft in Tahoe Vista, a report of trespassing in Tahoe City and a pair of home burglaries in Homewood and Tahoe City.
“We didn’t have a whole lot of incidents this weekend, surprisingly,” Power said.
Capt. Jeff Granum attributed the low arrests to crowd control caused by swimmers and floaters unable to access the Truckee River due to low water flows.
“Compared to previous years, our arrest numbers are way, way, down,” Granum said.
The North Tahoe Fire Protection District reported 25 emergency medical service calls, three motor vehicle accidents, a small building fire on a house deck and one motor vehicle collision with a pedestrian at Kings Beach State Park.