After Teen Vanished in California River, How to Avoid Being Swept Away by a Dangerous Current
The most important thing to do is to stay calm and control your breathing.
Authorities are advising those looking to cool down this summer to show caution before taking a dip after a California teen was swept away near Sacramento this month.
The body of 19-year-old Ray Cabalfin is yet to be found after he and a friend jumped into the American River in Sacramento on May 11. His friend was able to get out of the water safely, while Cabalfin was swept away.
His mother, Maria, remains hopeful that her son will be found alive.
"I know at this point it's a miracle, and that's what we're asking for," Maria told Inside Edition. Cabalfin's loved ones have set up a Gofundme page for his search and rescue.
Police say if you find yourself in troubled waters, it is important to remain calm, try to relax and control your breathing.
Then get into what is called the "safe swim position," which fire department officer Tom Farrell demonstrated to Inside Edition. The position requires you to move your body into a horizontal position in the water, with feet and head up and out of the water.
"That's gonna give you the ability to see what's in front of you, it's gonna give you the ability to push off with your largest muscle group, which is your legs, and have a little bit of control," Farrell said.
To help those in a situation of distress, you can remember a helpful series of steps from Sacramento Fire Department Captain Brian Gonsalves: "Reach, throw, row, go."
Try to reach them with a branch or oar, throw a life jacket or life ring, row if you can get to a boat, and go and swim out to the person, but only as a last-ditch effort, Gonsalves said, adding, "You'd have to be a very strong swimmer to be able to pull somebody out of the water."
Authorities say the culprit of the current is snow melt and heavy rains, which create frigid waters and treacherous conditions that are not always discernable from the surface.
Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children ages one to 14, and the fifth leading cause for people of all ages, according to the Center for Disease Control.
In 2007, at least 43 percent of all recreational water drownings happened in natural water settings, and from 2005-2014, there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings, the CDC reports.
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