Man injured at Yuba River had been drinking, officials say
A 40-year-old man who fell into the Yuba River and broke his leg Tuesday had been drinking alcohol before the accident, but he will not face any penalties for his actions, California State Parks Public Safety Superintendent John Burgasser said Thursday.
“The involved person had been drinking and used poor judgment, but to what degree the drinking played into the poor judgment, I’m not prepared to say,” Burgasser said. “It’s not against the law to fall off of a rock.”
The man’s identity will not be released because the accident was considered by park rangers to be a medical issue, not a law enforcement issue, Burgasser said.
The alcohol consumption was a misdemeanor that allegedly occurred outside of the presence of park rangers, so rangers could not cite him for violating park regulations, Burgasser said.
The man slipped off a rock into the water, and was rescued by firefighters, Nevada County Consolidated Fire District Battalion Chief David Ray said.
Michael and Joann Growney of Plumas Lake witnessed the accident and said the injured man and his brother had been drinking heavily.
“They were pretty intoxicated,” said Joann Growney. “You could tell they were drinking. As we walked by, (the man later injured) had a pretty glazed look and there was a strong odor of alcohol.”
The Growneys said they observed the man’s brother tell rescuers he and his brother “had been enjoying Mountain Dew and vodka.”
The man, holding a towel and wearing swim trunks, intended to swim in the water, but fell before he had a chance to try, she said.
“His brother said (the man) was going for a swim, and I gave him a look, and said ‘Good luck with that,'” Growney said. “Something didn’t feel right, and before we even got to the bridge, we heard a ‘thunk,’ like someone falling, and a splash.”
Michael Growney had to convince the injured man’s brother to refrain from swimming with his brother across the river to stairs leading to a parking lot, he said. The brothers did not want the Growneys to call 911, but Joann Growney did anyway, she said.
The man suffered a broken right leg, Ray said. In addition to the fire personnel, a CHP helicopter responded just in case the man had to be transported to the closest trauma center.
The injured man was transported by ambulance to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and the Growneys gave his brother a ride home, leaving his black Saturn in the parking lot.
“We wanted to make sure he didn’t drive,” Joann Growney said.
The brother told the Growneys the injured man had been a Nevada County sheriff’s deputy and currently lives in Kansas, though he planned to return to Nevada County and re-secure a job as a deputy, the Growneys said.
Burgasser said he did not know the man was a former deputy until Thursday, and the information gave no weight to the decision to let him go without a citation, he said.
To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4236.
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