Merced River rescues are expensive and if you need one, you could end up paying for it, according to the Merced County Sheriff’s Office.
A rescue of three women and a girl earlier in the week cost $3,900, Deputy Daryl Allen said on Thursday. No one rescued in recent memory has been sent a bill to date, Allen said, but there’s a first time for everything.
“We do want to make sure the public knows a bill will be sent to them,” he said.
Rescues can involve a boat, dive team, airplane and several more deputies along the banks of the river, he said, bringing costs for work time, fuel and other expenses.
On top of the cash that the rescued may have to fork over to first responders, wading into the dangerous waters could also kill you.
We do want to make sure the public knows a bill will be sent to them.
Deputy Daryl Allen of Merced County Sheriff’s Office
Warming temperatures have caused melting snow to flow into the Merced River, as well as the San Joaquin, Tuolomne, Kern and other rivers.
A little less than 1 million acre feet of water flows down the Merced River into Lake McClure in an average year, according to Mike Jensen, spokesman for Merced Irrigation District. This year, about 2.4 million acre-feet of water has flowed into Lake McClure.
County and state officials have repeatedly warned people to stay off of the state’s swollen waterways. Northern California saw one of the wettest winters on record, and all that precipitation caused snow in the Sierra Nevada to build up quickly.
2.4 million The number of acre-feet in Merced River since Oct. 1
That hasn’t prevented several deaths across the state so far this summer.
On Monday, the body of Ronnie Cole of Mariposa was recovered from the Merced River upriver from the Bagby Recreation Area, about 8 miles down river from where he was last seen. The 19-year-old disappeared last week after swimming near Cable Beach, according to Kristie Mitchell, spokeswoman for the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office.
“Please be aware of the potentially dangerous conditions in our rivers and streams right now due to massive snow melt,” she said in a news release.
Last month, 36-year-old Jose Castaneda drowned in the Merced River near Hagaman Park close to Stevinson after saving his 3-year-old daughter, who was swept away by the current.
This story has been corrected from an earlier version to reflect the true amount of water that has flowed into Lake McClure.