Alhambra man dies trying to rescue daughter from Merced River

An Alhambra man died last week after he dove into the Merced River in Mariposa County to rescue his 14-year-old daughter, authorities said.
Alfredo Damas, 45, was pronounced dead Friday afternoon after he was pulled from the water in the Briceburg area, Mariposa County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. His daughter was rescued.
The incident began just before 4:15 p.m. when authorities received a report that a 14-year-old girl was floating down the Merced River, apparently drowning, officials said.
“Witnesses report that the girl’s father, (Damas), entered the river to rescue her,” according to the sheriff’s statement. “Damas then also became distressed.”
Onlookers managed to reach the teenage girl and pull her to safety, the statement said. “Mr. Damas slipped under (the water) and out of sight.”
Witnesses reported the incident to a nearby Bureau of Land Management ranger, who began searching for Damas and soon found him submerged beneath about six feet of water, authorities said.
Rescuers at the scene performed CPR and attempted to revive Damas with no success, officials said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Autopsy results were not available Wednesday, however investigators described the death as an apparent drowning.
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Police and firefighters resuscitate man who collapsed in Montebello

MONTEBELLO — Police and firefighters, with help from a portable defibrillator, helped to save the life of a man who collapsed after a bike ride Saturday, authorities said.
Police received 9-1-1 calls about 3 p.m. reporting a man in his 40s has collapsed in the 800 block of North Lincoln Avenue, Montebello police Lt. Andy Vuncanon said. 
“It appeared he may have been exercising,” the lieutenant said. He collapsed while near his car with a bike.”
Cpl. A Iglesias and Officer M. Leal responded to the Vuncanon said.
“They assessed the victim and determined that he had no pulse, and immediately began CPR and utilized the (portable defibrillator),” Vuncanon said.
“The fire department relieved them, and they were able to establish a pulse and transport the victim to Beverly Hospital,” the lieutenant said.
The man remained hospitalized in an intensive care unit Sunday, officials said.
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One body recovered, 15 people rescued from Angeles National Forest over weekend

It’s was a busy weekend  for sheriff’s officials and other rescuers in the Angeles National Forest over the weekend, where 15 people were rescued and one body was recovered. Sheriff’s officials have put together a summary of the weekend incidents, complete with footage from rescue helicopter crew members’ helmet cameras:

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Hikers rescued from Eaton Canyon

ALTADENA — Sheriff’s officials rescued two Rancho Cucamonga hikers from Eaton Canyon Thursday after one of them fell from a cliff and the other became stranded, authorities said.
Rescuers responded to reports shortly after 3 p.m. that a 31-year-old man had fallen from a cliff near the third waterfall in Eaton Canyon, while his 20-year-old female hiking companion remained stuck on the cliff, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Altadena Search and Rescue Team members reached the woman and hoisted her to safety via helicopter about 4 p.m., officials said. She was shaken but uninjured.
The man had suffered several broken bones in one of his legs, Sgt. Debra Herman said.
After rescuers tended to his injuries at the scene, he was flown to an area hospital for treatment, officials said. An update on his condition was not available Friday, however the man was expected to survive.

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Friends, officials rescue man from San Gabriel River

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — Officials and friends resuscitated and rescued a man from the San Gabriel River after he jumped or fell in and landed on a rock, authorities said Tuesday.
Officials received a call just after 5 p.m. Monday that a 46-year-old man, who had been drinking alcohol with friends near East Fork Road, “had either fallen or dove into the rushing water of the San Gabriel River,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker said in a written statement. “He struck a rock and was unresponsive and laying face down in the water.”
“Witnesses moved him a short distance, but were hampered in their efforts due to it being a very treacherous area of the river and that it was difficult to move the man as he weighed well over 300 pounds,” Parker said.
The friends began performing CPR and called 9-1-1.
U.S. Forest Service officials and a sheriff’s rescue helicopter happened to be in the area and arrived to help within minutes, Parker said.
Sheriff’s paramedics were lowered from the helicopter and were able to resuscitate the victim, hoist him up into the aircraft and take him to a hospital, officials said. He was listed in stable condition Tuesday.

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Elderly couple rescued from burning home by neighbors in Whittier

WHITTIER — Concerned neighbors rescued an elderly couple from the burning house Friday, then attacked the blaze with garden hoses until firefighters arrived.
Ashley Colbern, 21, said she noticed smoke coming from the Rio Florida Drive home of her elderly neighbors, 83-year-old Matthew Papac and 80-year-old Corrine Papac, shortly before 2 p.m.
Colbern said she rang the doorbell, and Corrine Papac came to the door.
“She wasn’t aware of the fire,” Colbern said.
Colbern said she asked Corrine Papac where her husband was, and the woman directed her to a back bedroom.
After telling Corrine Papac to get out of the home, Colbern said she entered the bedroom and found Matthew Papac napping.
He didn’t respond to her warnings at first, she said.
Matthew Papac said he thought he was dreaming when Colbern first arrived and began telling him there was a fire.
“I was jumping — I was doing anything I could to get his attention,” she said.
Ultimately, Matthew Papac said he was escorted from his home by Colbern and another neighbor, 70-year-old Bruce Wyatt.
“We were running through the den there,” Matthew Papac said. “The smoke was filling up the room. Bruce grabbed me by the shoulder and said, ‘stay low.’”
In the end, everyone made it out of the house unharmed, though fire officials initially estimated the value of the damage to the single-story home at about $600,000.
Wyatt said he and a gardening crew working in the neighborhood then squirted garden hoses on the fire until firefighters arrived, though it had little effect on the raging roof fire.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, he said, though officials were looking into the possibility the blaze was ignited by the home’s fireplace.
The Papac’s daughter, 49-year-old Debbie Ferrari, said she visits her parent about three times a day and had been at the home only hours before the fire broke out.
“Thank God for (the neighbors),” she said. “They would have been sound asleep and burned to death.”
Ferrari erupted into tears as she hugged neighbors who took part in the rescue.
Nearly 30 firefighters extinguished the fire in about 25 minutes, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Sam Padilla said.
Once ignited, the fire spread quickly over the wooded, shake-shingle roof, Padilla added.
He said firefighters would likely be on scene for much of the day stripping away the roof and looking for hot spots.
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Rescue off Highway 39

AZUSA — A 74-year-old man who was trapped overnight after his SUV plunged 125 feet off of Highway 39 was rescued by helicopter Monday morning.

Family members reported the man missing Sunday night, officials said.

“He’s in pretty good shape for a 74-year-old who was down there in the cold all night,” Los Angeles County Fire Battalion Chief Jim Geandee said.

Story and video by reporter Thomas Himes:

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