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Davis, California

Saturday, July 20, 2024

Student Drowns in Rafting Accident

UC Davis student Lisa Sayaka Nakamaru, a 20-year-old third-year political science major from Torrance, CA tragically passed away on Sunday. She had been rafting with a friend on Putah Creek.

According to Yolo County Chief Deputy Coroner Gina Moya, the cause of death was drowning with the manner of death being accidental. The two rafters were discovered the same day at around 2:50 p.m. after their raft had hit a rough spot at a popular campsite near Lake Solano County Park and Monticello Dam that holds Lake Berryessa.

Nakamaru’s friend whose name and medical condition are not currently disclosed, was transported to Sutter Davis Hospital and released the same evening.

At 2 p.m., the Winters Fire Department was dispatched to investigate the scene. Aaron McAlister, Winter’s fire chief called for backup including a helicopter and other specialists among which were the Yolo County Boat Patrol and Vacaville Fire Rescue Water Team.

Almost immediately upon arrival, the dispatch team heard a commotion from four men who had seen the the deceased victim.

“We attempted to rescue the victim…We were able to remove her with paramedics standing by. It was determined that she was deceased at that point,” McAlister said.

He adds that in these cases, it is atypical to find and recover the victim as fast as they were able to.

According to McAlister, there are a series of obstacles in the area with the water flowing at a rate of 300 cubic-feet-per-second.

“That’s a fair amount of volume…Canyon Creek Resort and the creek at the resort near Lake Solano…can be misleading. It looks like a lake [in photos]. People go expecting to find a leisurely cruise and they encounter rapids and it’s dangerous,” McAlister said.

The team is still investigating whether or not lifejackets were used.

The Winters Fire District was responsible for coordinating the rescue efforts. The Yolo County Sheriff is handling the ongoing investigation, however the location of the incident is not closed off to visitors.

“It’s most unfortunate when a student dies….I think we all agree the loss of a student is tragedy,” said Julia Ann Easley, senior public information representative for UC Davis.

Friends and family of Nakamaru created a memorial facebook page in her honor to celebrate her life; It has garnered over 1,000 likes.

—  Gabriella Hamlett


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