A man injured after diving into the San Joaquin River in Kerman was airlifted Sunday to Community Regional Medical Center with possible spinal injuries, a Fresno Fire Department spokesman said.
Around 2:50 p.m., Fresno fire was alerted to a possible drowning victim at Skaggs Bridge Park, department spokesman Hector Vasquez said. When firefighters arrived, they discovered that a man had jumped off the limb of a tree head-first into a part of the river that was around 4 feet deep. The man, who is in his 40s, was at the park with a group of friends and had been jumping into the river earlier in the day.
“The river goes up and down throughout the day depending on the flow,” Vasquez said. The injured man was taken out of the river by one of his friends by the time firefighters arrived.
“He was conscious and answering questions,” Vasquez said. “He was complaining of neck and back injuries – consistent with a spinal injury.”
The man, who was unable to walk, was stabilized and taken by a SkyLife helicopter to CRMC. Vasquez did not know if the man was from the central San Joaquin Valley.
Authorities recommend that Valley residents avoid rivers and streams because of the difficulty of knowing the depth of the water.
“Even experienced swimmers can have difficulty because of the currents and unknown debris in rivers.” Vasquez said. “There’s so many unknowns – it’s not a controlled environment. If you want to go swimming, go to a public pool.”