Man who fell into Alameda County canal feared drowned

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

LIVERMORE — Despite a massive search, a Hollister man who fell into the Delta-Mendota Canal on Friday night remained missing Monday morning and was feared drowned, authorities said.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said family and friends of Lester Ashcraft, 56, contacted deputies about 9:51 p.m. Friday saying he was with a group fishing when he fell into the canal near Grant Line Road and was swept away by the rapid southbound current.

His family and friends told responding deputies he slipped from a steep embankment and the current swept him away.

The group tried to rescue Ashcraft but was unsuccessful because he could not stay afloat due to the fast current, the sheriff’s office said.

The sheriff’s office said the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority slowed the current from 3500 cubic feet per second to 900 cubic feet per second to aid the search, but conditions were still unsafe for divers.

Despite searches by air and ground units, a multi-agency effort to locate Ashcraft was unsuccessful both Friday night and Saturday, the sheriff’s office said

The sheriff’s office said that the current of the canal will now dictate Ashcraft’s recovery. The current was carrying him toward San Joaquin County.

His name has been entered into the national Missing and Unidentified Persons System and information about what happened has been disseminated to surrounding law enforcement agencies.

The sheriff’s office thanked the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority, the Alameda County and Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Departments, the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office Boating Safety Unit for their assistance in the search effort.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.