Man drowns near Lake Natoma

Sacramento River

Photo: Randy Miramontez

According to the Folsom Fire Department, 23-year-old Christopher Harris Jr. of Rancho Cordova drowned in a cove in Lake Natoma near Willow Creek State Park on Saturday.

The accident happened late Saturday afternoon when Harris was swimming across the river to a nearby beach at the Willow Creek recreation area in Folsom.

According to Fire Division Chief Calvin Howard, Harris made it about halfway across before having problems, at which point he went under and never resurfaced.

Park rangers and fire crews searched two hours for Harris before calling the Sacramento DART team in to assist with recovery. Harris’ body was found at around 9:30 p.m.

Harris was not wearing a life jacket.

According to the United States Search and Rescue Task Force (USSARTF) cold water is anything below 70 degrees, explaining that entering cold water, such as 50 degrees, may shock your body and could possibly cause cardiac arrest.

USSARTF goes on to explain that cold water will rob the body’s heat 32 times faster than cold air and physical activity such as swimming across a river will cause your body to lose heat at a much faster rate. Few people can swim a mile in fifty degree water.  While the shoreline may not look that far off, the excursion to get a across a swift moving river may equal a mile.

According to the American Red Cross when submerged in cold water the following begins to occur.

  • The temperature of the skin and of the blood in the arms and legs drops quickly.
  • At first, the victim may have trouble breathing and then may slowly become unable to use the arms and legs.
  • The temperature of the heart, brain and other vital organs gradually drops.
  • Shivering begins.
  • The victim may become unable to think clearly.
  • The victim may become unconscious. If the temperature drops more, death from heart failure is possible, but drowning may occur first.

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