[UPDATE 10:21 p.m.: Good News!] Community worries student rafting trip is in trouble

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Concern is growing after a group of young students and three adults have been almost completely disconnected since going rafting down the main course of the Eel River around 3.30pm on Tuesday. The chief texted that there had been an injury today, but there was no further information.

According to locals, there are nine boats and 17 people – three adults and 14 youngsters (all under the age of 15, according to a local).

Donna Sullins, who was hired to transport a vehicle from the settlement area to the confluence of the Eel Rivers in Dyerville, says: “The children [are] all from a private school in Berkeley. Sullins says she was worried about the situation and tried to speak out about the risks to the adults involved. “I just had a bad feeling… One of the moms got into my Jeep. I told her, ‘There’s no way in hell I’m leaving my kid on the river [at this time].'”

Sullins worried that the students were unprepared. She said the youngsters had life jackets, but, she told us, “the children didn’t have helmets”.

Two student boaters struggle with being sucked into a shallower area and getting stuck. [Photo provided by a local looking down from Alderpoint Bridge]

Almost immediately after entering the Eel River on Tuesday afternoon, two of the youngsters in one of the inflatable boats were swept into a shallower area below Alderpoint Bridge. One of the local women who was watching from the bridge told us, “Our river is so swollen and fast that even a local wouldn’t go into that river right now… There was a man and a woman [student], very small in size… As soon as they got to the fast part, it sucked them downriver to the center willows… They clearly didn’t know how to paddle their raft. He turned back and the river sucked them into the willows where it’s a little shallow there.

She said the boat was centered high and she was concerned the inflatable craft would burst.

Children were screaming for help and locals on deck tried to shout instructions on how to paddle. But the roar of the river made hearing difficult. One of the adults on deck told us, “They were scared. The girl shouted, “Help us! Help us! »

One of the adults in the school group, a young man believed to be between 18 and 20 by people we spoke to, had wanted to swim to save the students, but locals managed to dissuade him from trying.

Sullins, referring to Zack Harrison swimming in the River Eel near Alderpoint while fleeing a murder charge, said she told the young man: “I only know one guy, a local, who could swim like that, and he’s in jail.”

Two residents, learning of the dire situation, quickly rushed to the scene in a motorboat to rescue the two students while almost all of the remaining watercraft and their occupants were swept quickly out of sight by the rising Eel River. “Everyone else got swept into the river,” the onlooker from the bridge told us. “We never saw them again.”

The motorboat driven by a local man ran into some difficulty in the rough waters but sailed to the two youngsters. “He struggled with the speed [the river] was,” one of the onlookers told us, “and it has a very big engine. Two local men aboard the motorboat pulled the children onto the deck of the larger boat and undid their inflatables. Finally, they brought the young people and their boat ashore.

The students sit exhausted on the boat as two local men navigate the motorboat and their inflatable canoe to land. [Photo provided by a local looking down from Alderpoint Bridge]

Locals took the young adult and the two students to a place called Hippie Hole. “There were better lands there,” said the viewer. “The most experienced [young adult] put them with him and took them downstream. The girl was really shaken.

Several members of the community are very worried, especially since the rain fell on Wednesday.

Diana Totten, a well-known firefighter and rescue worker in southern Humboldt, is keeping up to date on the situation, although no one is sure where the group is on the eel. She told us: “The river has risen well [since the group launched]. Gravel bars are fully covered. The river is from one bank to the other… The water is muddy and fast. It’s dangerous.”

The river has risen six feet since the group launched, according to USGS water data.

Cubic feet per second on the main eel rod is now 16,800.

The main eel rod is now 16,800 cubic feet per second.

This afternoon, Donna Sullins told us she got a text from the group leader. The woman asked Sullins to meet her tonight at the confluence of the two Eel Rivers where they originally agreed Sullins would leave his vehicle next Sunday. “She said there was [an] injury,” Sullins reported. “I texted her and asked if she needed an ambulance, but no response.”

Sullins is currently at the confluence of the Eels McCann hoping the group of students will arrive soon.

UPDATE 9:15 p.m.: Supervisor Michelle Bushnell, who spoke to Humboldt County Sheriff Bill Honsal, tells us the school cluster has not yet been located, but Humboldt County Search and Rescue is en route to the area, as will two US Coast Guard helicopters that will fly over the river. as long as the weather permits flight crew access.

UPDATE 9:55 p.m.: According to supervisor Michelle Bushnell, the school group has been contacted and “they don’t need any help.” She tells us: “The injured person was picked up and evacuated by a third party.”

She added, “They’ll be out of the river early in the morning.”

A whole county will sleep easier tonight.

UPDATE 10:21 PM: According to a comment from the Humboldt Bay Coast Guard, “For those following: As the USCG crew prepared to take off earlier this evening, we received an update from Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office that the group sent a message that they were not in distress. HCSO was no longer requesting Coast Guard resources and will continue to monitor the situation. Thanks again to HCSO for their coordination!

UPDATE: Children are safe! : Students floating down the Swollen Eel River made McCann safe

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