USA — A wildland firefighter from Oregon who was fighting the local fires drowned yesterday after visiting the Trinity River on his day off, the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office said.
The firefighter, who was in his 30s, was visiting the river near Willow Creek, said Deputy Coroner Charles Van Buskirk.
We’re working currently to notify his family, Van Buskirk said late last night.
According to a press release, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies responded to Kimtu Beach in Willow Creak at about 4:30 p.m. and found about a dozen people 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 were unsuccessful.
The firefighter was employed by a contract wildland firefighting company. Witnesses told deputies the victim attempted to swim across the river in a T-shirt and his Nomex pants. About halfway across, the man turned around and tried to return to shore.
The current began to carry him down the river and he seemed to panic, witnesses said. Another swimmer attempted to help 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.