Youth OK after close call at Power Dam
A 17-year-old was taken for treatment of minor hypothermia symptoms Friday after East Fork firefighters and Douglas Sheriff’s Search & Rescue responded to a water rescue at the Old Power Dam in Gardnerville.
Rescuers said they fished three teens out of the East Fork of the Carson River after they jumped off the old dam and were trapped at the base.
Battalion Chief Larry Goss said East Fork Fire, along with Tribal Police and Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies, responded to a report of three juveniles that were unable to get out of the water, and holding on to debris.
“East Fork units responded to the known location of the victims as well at various points along the river downstream in the event the juveniles were unable to hold on at their location,” Goss said. “All three were assisted out of the water by East Fork personnel, one was evaluated and transported to the hospital for minor hypothermia.”
A mother of one of the teens said she got a call her son was on the way to the hospital.
“My son and his friend got trapped in ice cold, rushing water and could not swim out because of strong, swift currents,” she said. “Plus after struggling for 45 minutes, they were just completely out of strength. Twenty more minutes and they may have succumbed to the cold.”
The Record-Courier is not identifying the teenager or his mother due to his age.
“As the weather warms, snow melt will significantly impact the depth, speed, and temperature of the water (colder),” Goss said. “The conditions were at a dangerous level on the day of the rescue and have worsened since. It is important that flowing water is treated with respect as it is a dangerous force if nature. It is not advised to swim in the power dam area or where there is rapidly flowing river water.”
The National Weather Service said in a statement issued Monday that daytime temperatures in the upper-70s to mid-80s on Tuesday and Wednesday will increase flows on creeks, streams and rivers.
“Fast, cold water could result in incidents with more river use due to warmer daytime temperatures,” forecasters said. “Anyone venturing near rivers or streams should exercise caution as the water will be frigid. If you plan on being in the water use proper gear, such as flotation devices and wetsuits.”
Two brothers died in subsequent summers after jumping off the dam’s remnants in 1991 and 1992. Robert and Timothy Jim were trapped at the bottom of the dam by the swirling waters.
An effort to render the dam less of a danger occurred when Navy demolition experts blasted away much of the dam in 1998. Emergency officials estimated a half-dozen or so deaths had occurred at the spot due to drownings over the previous decade.
The dam was constructed in 1917.
One of the workers on the project was crushed and eventually died. Angler C.F. Rickey was electrocuted June 15, 1919, when his fishing poll crossed power lines as he was walking along the river.