A 19-year-old man from Mariposa hasn’t been seen since Friday while swimming in the Merced River in Mariposa County, according to the Mariposa Sheriff’s Office.
Ronnie Ray Cole and two of his friends went to an area known as Cable Beach, a little more than a mile away from the Briceburg Visiting Center, deputies said in a statement. Cole jumped into the river wearing blue jeans and black shoes around 2:45 p.m.
Witnesses said he started to swim to the shoreline but they lost sight of him.
Before calling authorities Cole’s friends decided to drive downstream to try and find him, police said.
By 3:45 p.m. deputies and search and rescue teams were looking for Cole where he was last seen and further downstream, authorities said. California Highway Patrol helicopters along with other agencies were assisting in the search over the weekend. Rescue teams used kayaks, rafts and drones over the weekend to search for Cole.
Merced County authorities have asked residents to stay out of the Merced River this summer because the current is fast, strong and dangerous. Northern California saw one of the wettest winters on record and the recent warm temperatures are causing snow from the mountains to melt rapidly into the Merced River.
On June 14 Jose Castaneda, 36, was swept away in the Merced River after he jumped in to save his 3-year-old daughter at Hagaman Park in Stevinson. A week ago Merced County Sheriff deputies recovered a body two miles down from Hagaman Park. The man has not yet been identified.
Police are still looking for Cole but the search has been “considerably downscaled,” the statement said.
Monica Velez: 209-385-2486