UC Davis Student Drowns While Rafting In Creek
October 15, 2014 8:59 AM
WINTERS, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say a 20-year-old student at University of California, Davis drowned in a weekend rafting accident in Yolo County.
The Sacramento Bee reports Wednesday that Lisa Sayaka Nakamaru was rafting Sunday in Putah Creek when she and a friend fell into the fast-moving waters.
The friend made it to shore with minor injuries, but Nakamaru could not be found. She was eventually spotted by other rafters, trapped against rocks underwater.
Firefighter-rescue swimmers pulled Nakamaru from the water. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Winters Fire Chief Aaron McAlister says the women encountered “aggressive rapids” and the raft became entangled in vegetation overhanging the water.
The newspaper says Nakamaru, a human relations major from Torrance, entered UC Davis in fall 2012.
Nakamaru’s mother says her daughter loved the outdoors.
UC Davis junior drowns in Putah Creek
In what the Winters Fire Chief calls "a tragic accident," a third-year UC Davis student drowned Sunday while rafting in Putah Creek. The Yolo County Coroner's Office identified the student as 20-year-old Lisa Sayaka Nakamaru, from Torrance, and confirmed the cause of death was drowning.
She was rafting with a friend just before 2 p.m. when they struck an object and the raft overturned, according to Winters Fire Chief Aaron McAlister. The incident occurred about half way between Lake Solano and Monticello Dam near Fishing Access 4.
While Winters Fire Department was prepared for a water rescue, about 30 minutes after responders arrived, another, unrelated group of a rafters found Nakamaru's body.
Firefighters heard "a commotion near the water" from the group of four men, McAlister said. "They spotted her in the water, trapped, up against something, being held by the current underwater."
Nakamaru was removed from the water where emergency responders determined she was deceased, about an hour after the initial call. Winters had called out additional resources, including Yocha Dehe Fire Department Swift Water Rescue and Yolo County Sheriff's Office Boat Patrol, along with helicopters, to look from air and downstream, but "ultimately it was tragic," McAlister said.
McAlister did not witness any lifejackets on the victim nor her friend that accompanied her. The surviving woman had minor injuries and was evaluated at Sutter Davis Hospital before being released.
Student Drowns in Rafting Accident
Published On October 15, 2014
UC Davis student Lisa Sayaka Nakamaru, a 20-year-old third-year political science major from Torrance, CA tragically passed away on Sunday. She had been rafting with a friend on Putah Creek. According to Yolo County Chief Deputy Coroner Gina Moya, the cause of death was drowning with the manner of death being accidental.
The two rafters were discovered the same day at around 2:50 p.m. after their raft had hit a rough spot at a popular campsite near Lake Solano County Park and Monticello Dam that holds Lake Berryessa. Nakamaru’s friend whose name and medical condition are not currently disclosed, was transported to Sutter Davis Hospital and released the same evening. At 2 p.m., the Winters Fire Department was dispatched to investigate the scene. Aaron McAlister, Winter’s fire chief called for backup including a helicopter and other specialists among which were the Yolo County Boat Patrol and Vacaville Fire Rescue Water Team.
Almost immediately upon arrival, the dispatch team heard a commotion from four men who had seen the the deceased victim. “We attempted to rescue the victim…We were able to remove her with paramedics standing by. It was determined that she was deceased at that point,” McAlister said. He adds that in these cases, it is atypical to find and recover the victim as fast as they were able to. According to McAlister, there are a series of obstacles in the area with the water flowing at a rate of 300 cubic-feet-per-second. “That’s a fair amount of volume…Canyon Creek Resort and the creek at the resort near Lake Solano…can be misleading. It looks like a lake [in photos]. People go expecting to find a leisurely cruise and they encounter rapids and it’s dangerous,” McAlister said.
The team is still investigating whether or not lifejackets were used. The Winters Fire District was responsible for coordinating the rescue efforts. The Yolo County Sheriff is handling the ongoing investigation, however the location of the incident is not closed off to visitors. “It’s most unfortunate when a student dies….I think we all agree the loss of a student is tragedy,” said Julia Ann Easley, senior public information representative for UC Davis. Friends and family of Nakamaru created a memorial facebook page in her honor to celebrate her life; It has garnered over 1,000 likes.
UCD student drowns in Putah Creek
What began as a leisurely raft ride along Putah Creek turned tragic Sunday when a 20-year-old UC Davis student drowned after she and a friend encountered unexpected rough waters, officials said Monday.
Lisa Sayaka Nakamaru, a junior from Torrance majoring in political science, fell into the creek along with her friend when their raft overturned at about 2:50 p.m., Winters Fire Chief Aaron McAlister said.
“They encountered some rapids that were significant, and that I’m not sure they were prepared for,” McAlister said. The friend was able to reach dry land and summon help from bystanders, but Nakamaru became separated and disappeared under the water.
The incident occurred in what’s known as “fishing access No. 4,” an area off Highway 128 between Lake Solano Park and Monticello Dam that McAlister said offers virtually no cell phone service and limited radio access as well.
As first responders arrived on scene and prepared to search for the missing rafter, they heard a commotion from another group of rafters who had come upon Nakamaru’s body in several feet of water, about 40 feet away from where she had first gone into the creek, McAlister said.
Ambulance personnel pulled Nakamaru from the water and attempted a rescue, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Her cause of death was drowning, the manner of death accidental, Yolo County Chief Deputy Coroner Gina Moya said Monday.
Nakamaru’s friend, scratched and bruised from her struggle in the rapids, was transported to Sutter Davis Hospital for evaluation, McAlister said. Her name was not released.
The fire chief noted that there were no signs that either woman had been using a life vest.
McAlister said while there are some tranquil areas of Putah Creek, “it quickly turns to very difficult rapids that people are unprepared for” and which have led to other rescue situations in the past.
“A very tragic incident,” McAlister added.
In addition to the Winters Fire Department, personnel from the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office marine patrol, the Yocha Dehe Fire Department swift water rescue unit, the Vacaville Fire Department and Vacaville Fire Protection District responded to the scene, as did a California Highway Patrol helicopter.
— Reach Lauren Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene