Oceanside CA— A husband who reported his wife had drowned in the San Luis Rey River triggered the response of multiple agencies to try and save her. At approximately 3:15 this afternoon, a family riding their bikes along the bike path from the beach as it passes under the I-5 Freeway was confronted by a frantic Spanish speaking man, in his mid-30’s, who said his wife had gone swimming in the San Luis Rey River and had disappeared.
They quickly called 911 and then flagged down a Fire Department Battalion Chief who was headed to another reported rescue call involving a capsized sailboat in the Oceanside Harbor. After relaying the story told to them, they escorted the Battalion Chief down to the riverbank where the Hispanic male had entered the river and was frantically searching for his missing wife along the opposite riverbank. When contacted by the Chief, the husband kept asking for help and advised that he could feel the top of his wife’s head under the water. With a confirmed victim in the water, a full water rescue response involving Oceanside Fire, Lifeguards and Police responded to the scene.
A pair of Oceanside Lifeguards arrived within seven minutes of the initial call and quickly entered the water to begin searching for the wife. As additional lifeguards arrived with dive equipment, they too joined in the search, as well as corralled and removed the husband from the water. Paramedics evaluated him at the scene and cleared him medically.
Additional lifeguard and dive teams were requested from neighboring agencies, as well as a helicopter from the Sheriff’s Department for an aerial search. Because the only access to the river in that area was down a steep slope and over large rocks, Fire Department personnel worked to create a way to get personnel and equipment safely down to the water and any victims, once found, back up to the bike path. After approximately 20 minutes of searching the murky water, the lifeguards were withdrawn to the shore to rest and plan the next phase of the search.
Throughout the search efforts, members of the Oceanside Police Department had been questioning the husband as he was being medically evaluated in an ambulance. Additionally, Police Officers were also sent to his home.
When the Officers arrived at his residence they found his missing wife safely inside. She had not accompanied her husband when he left their house and had not been swimming in the river. Even when confronted with evidence his wife was at home, the husband adamantly continued to report she had drowned. As rescue crews began cleaning up their equipment and undergoing decontamination after swimming in the murky water, police officers took the husband in to custody for additional evaluation. The last units cleared the scene at 4:35 pm.
A total of three engines, two ladder trucks, one ambulance, one Battalion Chief, a Squad and four lifeguard vehicles responded to the incident, bringing a total of 19 firefighters and seven lifeguards to the scene. An unknown number of Oceanside police vehicles also responded, as well as one diver from their Harbor Division. The other reported rescue incident involving the capsized sailboat at the Harbor also ended up being unfounded.