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Regional Parks, Safety Crews Warn of Upcoming 'Rafting Gone Wild' Event Dangers

As thousands of revelers prepare for the upcoming event posted on Facebook, local law enforcement and rescue crews get ready for what could be the biggest turnout yet.

On Saturday, July 14 thousands of rafters and revelers are expected to take the American River in what has become known as "Rafting Gone Wild," an event promoted through Facebook.

The event has attracted more than 16,000 invites on the Facebook event page with more than 4,300 people apparently planning to go. The total number of invites marks an increase of more than 4,000 people over last year's event and local law enforcement and rescue crews haven't lost sight of the inherent dangers now more prevalent than ever.

Because of the enormity of the event, public safety agencies from across Sacramento Couty are joining forces to enforce any applicable laws.

According to a statement released by Sacramento County's Regional Park District, Sacramento County Park Rangers, Rancho Cordova Police Department, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Unit, Sac Metro Fire Department and DART (Drowning Accident Rescue Team) will take part in the joint effort. 

In 2011 the rafting event drew close to 4,000 people to the American River and resulted in more than 50 water rescues performed by Sac Metro Fire and other rescue crews and at least 10 arrests. Sacramento County Sheriff's spokesman Jason Ramos explained arrests ranged from a result of public intoxication, driving under the influence, disorderly conduct and assault.

"Right now we're identifying a plan for boats on the water, take-out transport locations with local police departments and trying to maintain some civility for the flash mob party crowd," said Sac Metro Fire assistant chief Walt White. "We're anticipating similar numbers."

Ramos said the department will obviously discourage drinking on the river and tying rafts together. He added that everyone should have a personal floatation device available at all times. Ramos also explained despite diminished available resources, both on the ground and in the financial coffer, it should not present any obstacle for adequate safety coverage

"We're going to staff that event how we see fit, based on what we think we need out there," Ramos said. "If that means we incur some over-time costs, that's what's going to happen. We're going to have resources out there that won't impede on our other 911-related response teams."

Promoters for the "Rafting Gone Wild" Facebook page are encouraging a safe trip, stressing the, "river is running very cold with an abnormally strong current," going as far as to promote a river cleanup the following day.

Event commenters' resonse has varied from, "Ready to GET FADED!!!," said attendee Angelina Alcala from San Jose, to others wondering about the level of safety provided.

"Are life jackets provided with raft rentals?" asked another attendee Susan Komarizadeh.

The event is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.

For more on "Rafting Gone Wild", .

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