Woman, 22, critical after pulled from Sacramento River

REDDING — A 22-year-old woman was rushed to an area hospital in critical condition after an officer pulled her lifeless body from the Sacramento River in Redding yesterday afternoon, Thursday, July 4.

The victim was reportedly swept down river into whitewater conditions near the Anderson Cottonwood Irrigation District (ACID) diversion dam, after she and three companions used pool/lake inflatables to go floating on the river from the Caldwell Park boat ramp. None of the four had paddles or life vests with them, according to officials.


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Redding PD along with fire and rescue personnel were dispatched to the emergency around noon after receiving reports of a group that had been swept down the river toward the ACID diversion dam, Deputy Ray Hughes of the Shasta County Sheriff’s Boating Safety Unit later reported.

The group, which had been tied together when they left Caldwell Park, quickly realized they were in trouble and began frantically using their hands and feet to try and paddle away from the diversion dam and the dangerous, whitewater conditions beyond.

“The group immediately realized the current was stronger than they anticipated … and swiftly headed downstream towards the diversion dam,” Hughes explained.

As the group went through the pillars of the diversion dam and into the whitewater on the downstream side, one of the victims was able to grab onto the diversion dam walkway and pull herself to safety, according to Hughes.

Although one of the victims managed to pull herself from the water, her three companions continued through the diversion dam, where they “got caught in the hydraulics and kept circulating back towards the diversion dam,” Hughes explained.

Two of the other victims were also eventually able to escape the whitewater and managed to swim to the north shoreline.

In their panic, the trio who managed to self-extricate from the river lost sight of the victim, “who was eventually pushed out downstream from the diversion dam,” according to Hughes.

A short time later, SHASCOM emergency dispatchers received a 911 call from a witness who reported seeing a woman floating downstream in the river. The caller advised the victim was floating face down in the water toward the Market Street Bridge and that she appeared to be non-responsive.

After receiving the urgent call, the Sheriff’s Boating Unit, along with Redding police officers, Redding Fire Department, CHP Air Ops, and other emergency personnel were dispatched to the scene.

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One of those who responded to the emergency and was in the area, Redding PD Motor Officer James Stark, rode his motorcycle to the north side of the Sundial Bridge and parked next to the river. He then spotted the victim, “who was floating face down approximately 60 feet away from the river bank,” according to Hughes.

“Officer Stark, without regard for his own life or safety, entered the 50-degree water and swam to the victim,” Hughes explained; saying the officer then grabbed the victim and swam with her back to the north shoreline of the river.

After reaching the shore and medically assessing the victim, the officer determined the woman did not have a pulse and was not breathing and immediately began CPR. He continued performing chest compressions until other emergency personnel began arriving and took over life-saving efforts.

As paramedics continued working to revive the woman, she began to show signs of life and was rushed by ground ambulance to a nearby hospital, where doctors and other medical personnel took over. She was listed in critical condition.

Due to the severity of the victim’s medical condition, officials have not identified the woman, pending notification of her family.

Officials later praised the officer’s “heroic actions,” commending him for his valor, saying, “If not for RPD Officer Stark’s heroic actions and his life saving efforts, the victim would not have been transported to the hospital for advanced lifesaving efforts.”

The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office Boating Safety Unit would like to remind the public to be aware of hazards on the Sacramento River, such as the ACID diversion dam, tree snags, strainers, and swift currents that create dangerous conditions. There is currently 10,900 cfs coming down the Sacramento River, from Keswick Dam, with water temperatures between 48 to 52 degrees (cold water conditions). The Boating Safety Unit recommends everyone wear a personal flotation device (PFD) while recreating on all waterways in Shasta County.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.


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