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On Tuesday, May 5th, 2020, at approximately 4:37 P.M. Redding Police and Redding Fire responded to the 3500 block of Riverview Drive to access the Sacramento River after five citizens in a raft called 9-1-1 to report they were snagged on a log in the middle of the river. The citizens reported they did not have enough life jackets and their life raft was deflating.
Redding Police and Redding Fire summoned a Redding Fire rescue boat and the California Highway Patrol Helicopter. The five citizens remained on the phone with 9-1-1 and reported they were growing too cold and fatigued to hang onto their raft and the log. Redding Police Officer Eddie Gilmette happened to be nearby a river boat operated by two citizens. Officer Gilmette recognized the urgency and boarded the boat. Officer Gilmette was able to access the five victims by boat. The victims eventually lost control of the raft and drifted down river. Officer Gilmette with the assistance of citizens Duane Shoemaker and Darren Webster saved three of the victims by pulling them in the boat.
The CHP Helicopter was able to hoist the remaining two out of the water and safely transport them to the shoreline. The rafters were identified as Noelle Lake 26 years of Redding, Cesar Jose 30 years of Redding, Brittany James 28 years of Redding, Zachary Cobd 37 year of Redding and Venessa Viera 24 years of Redding. The group said they had been celebrating Cinco de Mayo by floating down the Sacramento River on their personal raft when they became snagged and partially overturned on the submerged log. They reported the water was too cold and too swift to regain control of their raft which prompted the call for help.
The actions of CHP Air Ops, Officer Gilmette, citizens Duane Shoemaker and Darren Webster undoubtedly saved the lives of the five rafters. The Redding Police Department would like to remind citizens to use caution and never underestimate the swift and frigid waters of the Sacramento River. Rafters should wear life jackets at all times while on the River.