Two men rescued after their vehicle plunges into the San Joaquin River
Two Modesto men were rescued from the swift, frigid waters of the San Joaquin River on Wednesday after a collision sent the pickup they were in off the roadway and over an embankment.
The crash occurred near the Old Fisherman’s Club on Highway 132, east of North Gates Road just after 10 a.m.
The men were chest-deep in the water and had been holding onto a tree branch for about 40 minutes when they were rescued, according to Stanislaus County sheriff’s Sgt. Erich Layton.
The first man was rescued by Deputy Andrew Nikkel, who rappelled 100 feet from Air 101, the Sheriff’s Department’s helicopter, piloted by Deputy Anthony Winstead. The other man was rescued a few minutes later by Patterson firefighters in a rescue boat.
Both men were taken to hospitals in Modesto. Dimas Borba, 67, had to be treated for hypothermia and Adam Fagundas, 58, had minor injuries, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The San Joaquin River on Wednesday was in flood monitoring stage at 65.7 feet deep and flowing at 18,096 cubic feet per second, the amount of water passing a given point in one second. One cubic foot equals about 7.48 gallons.
A U.S. Geological Survey water data page says the temperature of the water was about 58 degrees.
The crash occurred when the men were traveling west in a Ram pickup on Highway 132 and the driver of a Toyota, who was traveling east, for unknown reasons allowed his vehicle to cross over the double yellow lines and partially enter the westbound lane, according to the CHP.
The left side of the Toyota struck the left side of the Ram, causing Borba, who was driving, to lose control of the vehicle. The Ram proceeded in a southwesterly direction, left the roadway and went up a dirt embankment before plunging into the river, according to the CHP.
Both men were wearing their seat belts and were able to get out of the vehicle before it became fully submerged. CHP Officer Tom Olsen said the vehicle will have to remain in the river until the water recedes.
The driver of the Toyota, 40-year-old Adam Ramsay of Modesto, was not injured.
The cause of the collision remains under investigation, although it has been determined that Ramsay was not under the influence, according to the CHP.
Air 101 is commonly used to search for or pursue suspects. While deputies assigned to the air support unit have been trained for several years in rescues, Layton said they are not done often.