Alexander Alvarez, 34, of Citrus Heights, CA was caught and swept away by the South River Yuba as he attempted to rescue his 12-year-old daughter. The incident occurred at around 6:40 pm Saturday between the old and new Highway 49 bridges. Two other people, one of them a State Parks ranger, managed to rescue the girl. Two others tried to reach Alvarez but couldn’t, Nevada County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kress said.
“Once you get swept into the rapids, there’s little anyone can do,” Nevada County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kress said. “You’re at the mercy of the river. It is not probable he survived this incident.”
Around 30 volunteers with the county’s Search and Rescue team responded to the area, searching Saturday night and Sunday. The California Highway Patrol used a helicopter to aid in the search. The search, which continues, has since been scaled back. Alvarez remained missing Monday, Kress said. The river was flowing at 400 cubic feet per second on Saturday.
Witnesses saw the river carry Alvarez about 400 yards downstream. Then he went under and didn’t resurface.
Chief Ranger Matt Green, with the Sierra District of California State Parks, said rangers give people advice on the river. Some listen. Others ignore it.
“Some people are going to ignore it altogether,” Green said of the advice. “That’s not all of them. Hopefully, they’ll listen to it.”
After a very wet winter, the Sierra snowpack is melting and run off has swollen California lakes, rivers and creeks. The Sheriff’s Office says the river is flowing at up to five times normal.
Officials are urging people to avoid the Yuba River at least until August because it is still very cold and dangerous.