May 2, 2010 8:41 PM
The Sacramento river at the Butte-Glenn county line looked serene Sunday, but underneath the surface the water is 49-degrees and there are snags and rapids. A few remnants of the first unofficial float of the year, a flattened inner-tube and trash remain strewn about, but Saturday was a different story. Authorities say more than five-thousand people floated down the Sacramento river, seventy percent of whom they say were out of towners. Some came from as far away as southern California and Arizona, adding to the already dangerous situation. "They are not familiar with the river, not familiar with this time of year in reference to the type of water flow, which was heavy at the time and the temperature of the water, 49-degrees," Cal Fire Captian Scott McClean stated.
Adding alcohol to the mix made for a near deadly combination. Sixteen people needed medical treatment, one female was life-flighted to Enloe Medical Center, where she is listed in serious condition, along with another tuber. "It was kind of hard to get across the river and the current was so strong that it kind of pulled you so you couldn't really get to exactly where you were going but I think it got a little bit out of hand with people drinking and getting angry over stupid things," tuber Noelle Masonwood explained.
A Student run organization in Chico called Top Shelf Productions planned the floating event weeks in advance through Facebook and other social networking sites, despite knowledge of cold water. "I know people that didn't go because it was too cold and I do think they missed out. It's really, you can't be peer-pressured but I do think it's very encouraged for people to float, you know?" tuber Carly Callaghan stated.
It wasn't just people who were affected by Saturday's big float, it also had a major impact on the environment. Beer cans, trash and other debris was left behind. It also took a toll on law enforcement. Several departments from Butte and Glenn counties responded to the major incident.
2 days ago