In the photo, a vehicle is stuck in the swiftly moving Estrella River in San Miguel. Photo courtesy SLO Sheriff’s Department.
The County Sheriff’s Department is reminding the public not to try and pass through running creeks and rivers and to heed the warnings of “road closed” signs after a woman and her three children were rescued from a local river swollen with rain runoff.
According to Sheriffs’ spokeswoman Grace Norris, at about 6:15 p.m. Thursday, March 23 deputies and the San Miguel Fire Department were dispatched to a report of a car trapped in the swollen Estrella River crossing on North River Road in San Miguel. The crossing is normally dry and passable. There is no road bridge at that rural crossing.
“The driver,” Norris said in a news release, “had gone around ‘road closed’ signs and attempted to cross through moving water, when her vehicle was swept off the road and into the river.”
The incident was eerily similar to what happened in the Jan. 8-9 storms when a woman was rescued by a bystander but her 5-year-old son was swept away and has yet to be found.
As with that tragic event, bystanders stepped up here too.
“When Deputies arrived,” Norris said, “two civilians were attempting to get the children to shore through the waist-deep raging river.”
A deputy jumped in to help and they were able to get the three kids to safety. The deputy, who was not named, went back into the water to rescue the children’s mother and all made it safely out of what must have been a terrifying situation.
Norris and the department took the occasion to restate a safety message.
“The Sheriff’s Office would like to urge our community,” Norris said, “to follow the law and abide by road closures. Don’t put your life or the lives of others at risk by circumventing warning signs.”