Two boys were rescued from the cold, rushing waters of the Stanislaus River east of Oakdale on Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
Eric DeHart, battalion chief for the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District, said the two had entered the river in their kayaks at Horseshoe Recreation Area just after 1 p.m.
Minutes later, about 100 yards from where they entered the river, their kayaks overturned. Both boys were wearing life vests, and quickly grabbed hold of a nearby tree.
Rescuers were called to the scene, and quickly made verbal contact with both the boys. A California Highway Patrol helicopter, which was in the area, also made visual contact.
“They weren’t in immediate peril,” DeHart said. “But, they weren’t in a position to go anywhere.”
Crews entered the river with two boats, and the boys were brought to safety by 1:50 p.m. Both kayaks also were retrieved – one of them about a mile away.
Authorities continue to remind people to be extremely careful around area rivers, which are flowing fast and cold from all the rain and snow melt.
On Thursday at the time of the rescue, the Stanislaus River’s flow was measured at about 4,700 cubic feet per second. Last year at this time, it was flowing at about 3,000 CFS and two years ago less than 300 CFS, according the state Department of Water Resources.
The river temperature at time of Thursday’s rescue was 50 degrees.
DeHart discourages anyone – regardless of experience – from entering the water. He says the flow and temperature of the water, combined with debris, can be hazardous.
“It wraps you up and doesn’t let you go,” he said. “When the force of the water pushes you one way, and you can’t move, the water pushes you down.”