Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to Kimtu Beach in Willow Creek at about 4:30 yesterday afternoon after receiving a report of a possible drowning. Deputies arrived and found approximately 12 people along the riverbank searching for the victim. Deputies were assessing the situation when they learned the victim had been pulled from the water near Patterson Road. Resuscitation efforts, including CPR, were given, but were unsuccessful and paramedics pronounced the man deceased.
Deputies learned the victim was a firefighter employed by a contract wildland firefighting company. Witnesses told deputies the victim attempted to swim across the river in a tee shirt and his Nomex pants. At about halfway across, the man turned around and tried to return to shore. The current started carrying the victim down river and witnesses said the man appeared to panic. Another swimmer attempted to aid the man but had to swim to shore after approaching the swift current and rocks. Witnesses saw the victim go underwater and his body was recovered approximately 20 minutes later.
The decedent’s name is being withheld pending the notification of the next of kin.