As the official first day of summer approaches, more and more people will be hitting the water to deal with the heat. Beaches, lakes, rivers and pools are about to experience their busiest season — but with that comes danger.
Sadly, one man lost his life to the power of a fast-flowing river on Tuesday as he was trying to help rescue a child.
The man, later identified as 62-year-old Arthur Caballero, was at the Kings River in Winton Park in Fresno County, California, fishing when he saw a child struggling in the water.
He dived in, joining some of the family who’d also jumped in to try to rescue the child.
#BREAKING: a man in his 60’s died after being swept under in the King River near Winton Park this afternoon. Rescue crews say he was trying to save a little boy who went under. Total of of 5 people needed to be rescued after they tried to help one another. @CBS47 @KSEE24 pic.twitter.com/fLm0DKDOuX
— Kirsten Mitchell (@Kirsten_TV) June 10, 2020
“People were trying to save other bystanders and bystanders were trying to save those people,” Fresno County Fire Battalion Chief Ryan Michaels told KGPE.
“Ultimately, multiple people were in the water, several near-drownings.”
“Several would-be rescuers became victims themselves, started to be swept downstream,” he added to KMPH-TV.
The problem was compounded by the fact that the location was remote, and getting help, let alone calling for it, proved challenging.
“In this location, there’s not a way to dial 911,” Michaels said.
“The cellphones won’t work and a lot of people have become complacent to that and thinking that it’s always going to be easy to call for help and in this instance, it was delayed before they were able to reach firefighters to ask for help,” he told KGPE.
Someone ended up driving a mile to the fire station to get help, and as Michaels said, “from start to finish, we were almost approaching an hour.”
While the other family members were able to get out of the river, it took 40 minutes and a helicopter to locate Caballero’s body half a mile downriver.
Authorities are using this tragic incident as a reminder for people who frequent the area.
“One slip or one false step and you can be in water that’s producing several hundred pounds of force against your body,” Michaels said.
“Even for our firefighters who have wet suits and life jackets, it’s still a very dangerous situation.”
While it’s incredibly sad that Caballero lost his life, he died a hero for stepping up to help save a child.
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