UPDATE, 2/17: The Humboldt County Coroner’s Office told the North Coast Journal that the man who drowned was 33-year-old Eureka resident Jonathan Walsh Mellon. The case is being treated as an unfortunate accident and no criminal investigation is expected.
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Original Post: From the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:
On 02/13/15 at about 2252 hours, deputies were dispatched to the area of the Redwood Creek Bridge in Orick for a report of a possible drowning that occurred. Deputies arrived on scene at about 2330 hours, and located a white Ford truck with a boat and trailer on the river bar northwest of the Redwood Creek Bridge. Two subjects reported their friend had drowned and was currently in the boat on the trailer.
The victim and his two companions started their three day rafting trip at Stover Bridge on Redwood Creek and planned on rafting down the river over the next three days. At approximately 1600hrs., the group reached Redwood Falls, 12 miles from Orick. The victim and one companion exited the boat and proceeded down river, while the other companion negotiated the falls. The victim and his companion set up a series of safety ropes to assist in catching the boat if it didn’t make it through the falls safely. The boat made it safely through the falls, but the victim was caught in the safety rope and unable to free himself. Once the companions were able to reach the victims location in the water 15-20 minutes had gone by. When the companions reached the victim he was deceased.
Due to the remoteness of the area, the companions were unable to notify the authorities at the time. The two companions transported the victim, by boat, the remaining distance to Orick, where they contacted law enforcement.
Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.