Firefighters rescue kayakers, rafters on the Stanislaus River near Knights Ferry

Tips on how to have a safe day boating on the Stanislaus River

John Brunk, the operations manager at Sunshine Rafting Adventures in Knights Ferry has some tips on how to safely enjoy boating.
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John Brunk, the operations manager at Sunshine Rafting Adventures in Knights Ferry has some tips on how to safely enjoy boating.

Firefighters rescued five people who became stranded in the Stanislaus River in two incidents that happened within minutes of each other near Knights Ferry.

The first rescue occurred about 1:30 p.m. Monday after two kayaks were capsized, according to the Modesto Fire Department, which now patrols the river under a contract for service in that area.

Fire officials said the kayakers became stranded in a section of the river with Class II rapids known as Russian Rapids. These rapids are characterized as “rolling haystacks” of water that are exciting but still suitable for those new to rafting, according to Sunshine Rafting, which offers trips along the river.

Rescue crews from the Modesto Fire Department and a crew from the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District responded to the call for help from the kayakers.

Fire officials said the rescue crews quickly found both kayakers and took them to shore with their kayaks on the rescue boat. As the kayakers were dropped off, dispatchers informed rescue crews of a stranded raft.

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Firefighters rescued two kayakers and three rafters who became stranded Monday afternoon July 22, 2019, in the Stanislaus River near Knights Ferry, California. Modesto Fire Department

Three people in an inflatable raft were stranded farther down the river, said Modesto Battalion Chief Mike Shockey. On Tuesday morning, he said he didn’t have information as to how the rafters became stranded or which type of raft they were using.

The rescue crews already in the water responded to the second call for help. The Stanislaus crew launched its boat from the Orange Blossom Recreation Area and quickly rescued the stranded rafters, according to Modesto fire officials.

Firefighters helped the rafters and kayakers on shore with finding rides back to their launch points along the river. Fire officials said the kayakers lost their car keys and cell phones in the rapids.

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Rosalio Ahumada writes news stories about criminal court cases in Stanislaus County for The Modesto Bee, issues related to immigration and immigrant communities and breaking news related to crime and public safety. From time to time, he covers the Modesto City Council meetings. He has worked as a news reporter in the Northern San Joaquin Valley since 2004.