Marcos Moreno, 30, of Fresno was trying to cross Willow Creek Trail, above Angel Falls, when he was swept by the frigid and fast-moving water, said Sarah Jackson, a spokeswoman for the Madera County Sheriff’s Office.
Off-Duty CHP Officer Rescued a Man Previously
On May 9, another man tried to cross the same trail and was swept into a whirlpool, she said. An off-duty California Highway Patrol officer who was trekking in the area coordinated a rescue effort involving a half-dozen people to pull the man to safety. The dramatic rescue was captured on video and showed the victim struggling to keep above the water.
While hiking at Angel Falls near Bass Lake in Madera County, off-duty Fresno CHP Officer Brent Donley (ball-cap) was alerted to a victim who was struggling to keep above water, stuck in the cold and fast moving water. His trailing & quick thinking undoubtedly saved the man. @AP pic.twitter.com/H7KNQ8gTxd
— CHP Fresno (@ChpFresno) May 10, 2020
Sierra National Forest warned last week that as spring temperatures warm, significant snowmelt will fill rivers and streams in the Sierra.
Increase in Visitors to the Area
Jackson said tourism to the recreation area usually starts Memorial Day weekend, but this year there has been an uptick of visitors as Californians who have been confined at home amid the coronavirus pandemic seek fresh air in the great outdoors.
The parking area to Willow Creek Trail, and the trail itself, had been closed by the Sierra National Forest because of public health concerns.
The park is set to reopen recreation sites this Thursday.