Accident Database

Report ID# 49014

  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Does not Apply
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description

Northern California man dies in rafting accident on American River near Colfax

Published Monday, May 6, 2019

A 56-year-old Sacramento man died while rafting on the American River 50 miles north of Sacramento Saturday.David Wayne Johnson was rafting with two others when the vessel flipped over, according to Cal Fire. All three rafters were not wearing life jackets and were washed down the river below the Iowa Hill Bridge. One victim swam to shore and a woman was rescued shortly after the incident.

A dive team located and rescued the woman, and was forced to suspend the search for Johnson due to "dangerous water levels including class 4 rapids in this section of the river and pitch black light conditions," Cal Fire reported.The California Highway Patrol, Cal Fire's Nevada-Yuba-Placer unit, California State Parks, the Placer County Sheriff and the Colfax Fire Department responded to the incident at the Mineral Bar Campground.

A Sacramento man was found dead after three rafters fell into the North Fork of the American River near Colfax on Saturday evening, according to Cal Fire and the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.

David Wayne Johnson, 56, was found Sunday by park rangers and recovered by Placer County sheriff’s dive teams near Lake Clementine, according to a news release by the sheriff’s office.

Crews with Cal Fire, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, Colfax Fire Department and other agencies responded about 6 p.m. Saturday to a water rescue scene near the Mineral Bar Campground, according to a news release by Cal Fire’s Nevada-Yuba-Placer unit.

The three rafters, who were not wearing life jackets, were “washed down river” beneath the Iowa Hill Bridge, the news release said.

One person managed to make it to shore and called 911, Cal Fire said. The second victim became stranded about a half-mile downstream, but was eventually located and rescued via California Highway Patrol helicopter. That person was taken to an area hospital.

The search for the third victim, Johnson, had been suspended after midnight Saturday due to dangerous rapids and “pitch black light conditions,” according to Cal Fire’s news release.


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