Deputies with Waterford Police Services and the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday responded along Hickman Road just outside of Waterford for a missing swimmer. Law enforcement officers were accompanied by paramedics, firefighters and other emergency first responders. Agencies responded to the scene shortly before 2 p.m. on June 14.
Initial reports indicated a 13-year-old Hayward boy had been separated from his family. The group had been swimming approximately 200 yards near a bridge located along the Tuolumne River just outside the incorporated portion of the city of Waterford.
Deputies, firefighters, and a helicopter were sent to the area in order to assist with the search and rescue. Their efforts were complicated by the fact that water levels near the shoreline were too low in order for firefighters to launch their boats and begin scouring the immediate area. It should be noted the current of the water in and around the Tuolumne River can appear calmer than they actually are, thus giving recreational users a false sense of security when either swimming, boating or rafting.
The under-tow can swiftly move swimmers and watercraft from one point to the next, debris can make the conditions more challenging and water depth can change at a moment’s notice creating dangerous conditions.
“We wish to remind the public to always wear a life-vest, be cognizant and realistic about your own personal swimming capabilities, and always designate a safety person to watch out for your loved ones who can call for assistance if help is needed,” noted Public Information Officer, Sgt. Luke Schwartz.
The teen’s body was recovered and he was declared deceased prior to the arrival of the emergency helicopter. Sheriff’s Office chaplains, coroner’s office detectives, and other patrol personnel were on-scene facilitating a next-of-kin notification and identification late Sunday afternoon.
“We will be awaiting the completion of their preliminary investigative efforts and will not be releasing any further details at this time. We will provide further later during the work week should investigators with the Coroner’s Office deem that necessary,” Schwartz said.