Waterways still dangerously cold despite warm weather across Central California

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) — Authorities are continuing to stress the importance of water safety after two people drowned in a Madera County creek.

“Water that is coming from very high elevations, it is running quite cold. Our latest water temperatures, and the foothills, and the Sierra, and up towards Yosemite national Park are running about 50 to 60 degrees,” said National Weather Service Meteorologist, Stephen McCoy.

On Wednesday, two people from Madera County drowned at Angel Falls.

The Madera County sheriff’s search and rescue team recovered the bodies of the man and woman after a frantic 911 call sparked the search.

It’s unclear exactly how they ended up in the water, but the national weather service says it doesn’t take long for the frigid temperatures in creeks like this one to take a toll.

“It can be 10 to 15 minutes before you have loss of dexterity, anything under 50 can be under five minutes. So when you get into these waters, you can lose your dexterity, even for the strongest summer, very quickly.”

Right now, rocks along Willow Creek and similar waterways are also very slippery. That’s why it’s critical to be prepared before heading out on a hike.

“So this is like a good pair of hiking boots, if you’re going backpacking – you have the proper ankle support here, really good traction on the base of these shoes,” said Travis Shakta with Alpenglow Gear Co.

Travis Shatka owns Alpenglow Gear Company in Oakhurst on the way to the falls and Yosemite.

He says what you wear, from head to toe is imperative when taking to trails.

“It be great to carry a headlamp. It might get dark, you might get lost, a map of the area. Your phone isn’t always going to work or maybe you lose it or drop it in the river, hydration is very key for all of these issues,” said Shatka.

Shatka is a hiker and climber himself.

He says he was heartbroken to hear about the incident at Angel falls, and adds stream safety starts before you get to the foothills.

“Nature is very dangerous, and being prepared, and having the right mindset, is actually as important as, bringing the right gear,” said Shatka.

The two victims have not been identified.

They are the first drowning victims the sheriff’s office has responded to this year, and authorities hope they will be the last.

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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.