Chico Family Saved on Sacramento River

Jun 29, 2013 1:47 AM

Many will be heading out to local lakes and rivers as temperatures soar over the weekend, looking to have fun and stay cool at the same time. If that's what you have planned, consider this cautionary tale. It’s the story of a Chico family, grateful to be alive, after a mishap on the Sacramento River Friday evening could have ended tragically.

In this story, we begin with the ending and fortunately for the Collins family of Chico it's a happy ending. Less than two hours earlier, mother, father and two teenage sons set off from Scotty’s landing for a quick canoe trip down the Sacramento River with the youngest boy in tow, on an inner-tube.

"There was a fallen tree and the canoe went on one side and the tube on the other,” said Don Collins, the dad of the family. “We got stuck taking in water, and flipped." Everyone ended up in the river. They were wearing life jackets but that didn't eliminate the very real fear.

I was terrified,” said Nathaniel Collins, 15, “I tried to swim for the nearest branch, and the only thing to grab onto was a paddle and two sandals." Younger brother Eric Collins, 13, had his own struggle. "I was in the tube. I dived out fell to a tree, grabbed it until my dad got there."

Eric and his dad made it to a sand bar. Nathaniel and his mom were on the bank, clinging to branches. Now separated, each stranded pair could do nothing but wait and worry.

"Yeah, cuz you don't know where the other two went," said the mom, Idie Herrera. She and Nathaniel were spotted by jet skiers who went for help. Butte County rescuers rushed to the scene and in no time, all were back at Scotty’s landing for that happy ending, a little wiser, and with renewed gratitude for what matters most in life.

The most recent statistics show that 84-percent of drowning victims on California waterways were not wearing life jackets. Fortunately, each member of the Collins family was wearing a life jacket. And authorities say you should never use a tow-line on rivers for the very reason the Collins family discovered Friday night.


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