RPD Officer Pulls Rafting Accident Victim from Sacramento River

On 7/4/2019, at approximately 1200 hours, Jeff Shea (27 years old), Miranda Steiger (27 years old), Kaelin Dietrich (24 years old) and the female victim (22 year old), all from Redding, put 3 pool/lake inflatables on the Sacramento River at Caldwell Park boat ramp. The group did not have any paddles or life vests with them. They tied together and all set out on the river.

The group realized the ACID diversion dam was downstream once the group got away from the boat ramp. The group immediately realized the current was stronger than they anticipated. The group swiftly headed downstream towards the diversion dam. The group tried to paddle with their hands and swim the floats to shore, but were unsuccessful. Shea, Dietrich and the Victim went through the pillars of the diversion dam and into the white water hydraulicing on the downstream side. Steiger was able to grab onto the diversion dam walkway and pull herself to safety. Shea, Dietrich, and the Victim got caught in the hydraulics and kept circulating back towards the diversion dam. Shea and Dietrich were able to escape the white water and get to the north shoreline. The Victim went under water and was eventually pushed out downstream from the diversion dam. Witnesses saw the Victim floating face down in the water and appeared to be non-responsive.

Shascom received a 911 call about the accident with multiple people in the water. The caller advised the Victim was floating face down going downstream towards the Market Street Bridge. The SCSO Boating Unit, RPD, RFD, CHP Air Ops and medical responders were dispatched to the scene.

RPD Motor Officer James Stark heard the call and rode his motorcycle to the north side of the Sundial Bridge and parked next to the river. Officer Stark saw the Victim floating face down approximately 60 feet away from the river bank. Officer Stark, without regard for his own life or safety, entered the 50 degree water and swam to the Victim. Officer Stark grabbed the Victim and swam back to the north shoreline.

Officer Stark medically assessed the Victim and determined the Victim did not have a pulse and was not breathing. Officer Stark started CPR on the Victim and continued CPR while RFD personnel and SO personnel arrived on scene to assist Officer Stark. The Victim showed signs of life and was transported by ambulance to a local hospital.

If not for RPD Officer Stark’s heroic actions and his life saving efforts, the Victim would not have been transported to the hospital for advanced lifesaving efforts. The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office commends Officer Stark for his valor.

The Victim will not be identified pending the notification of the next-of-kin due to the severity of the Victim’s medical condition.

The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office Boating Safety Unit would like to remind the public to be aware of hazards on the Sacramento River, such as the ACID diversion dam, tree snags, strainers, and swift currents that create dangerous conditions. There is currently 10,900 cfs coming down the Sacramento River, from Keswick Dam, with water temperatures between 48 to 52 degrees (cold water conditions). The Boating Safety Unit recommends everyone wear a personal flotation device (PFD) while recreating on all waterways in Shasta County.

-from press release
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5 Responses

  1. Avatar Mark D Twitchell says:

    Pool floaties? No lifejackets? No paddles? (Not that they would have helped.) Starting just yards upstream from the diversion dam?

    Were they trying to commit suicide I wonder?

  2. Avatar Chris Solberg says:

    Where is RPD Motor Officer James Stark’s photo? I believe he needs a hero’s banquet in his honor. Officer Stark exemplifies the characteristics we hope to find in ALL Redding Police Officers.

    Well done Officer well done… I Salute You Sir 🙂


  3. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    The risk that Officer Stark took on to rescue the victim can’t be minimized. He’ll probably try to say that he was just doing his job. Baloney. Officer Stark is a hero.

  4. Avatar Candace C says:

    It’s comforting to know there are people like Officer Stark riding around in Redding.

  5. Avatar Sherry says:

    Officer Stark performed CPR until she again showed life signs (which is exhausting!)… AFTER swimming 60-120 feet in full gear… Yep a true hero. Thank God for people like James. <3