Man Drowns in Humboldt County Floodwaters

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An aerial photo of flooding on the Eel River at Fernbridge, near where Humboldt County deputies were dispatched to try and attempt a rescue. (Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services)

A dairy farm worker drowned in the floodwaters of Humboldt County's Eel River Delta on Wednesday night while trying to get to his home where three children were trapped inside, Humboldt County Sheriff's Dept. officials said.

Sheriff's deputies were dispatched Wednesday night to the house on the 800 block of Sage Road in Ferndale, the sheriff's office said in a statement.

The victim was wading from a dairy barn to his home through up to five feet of water, when he was swept away by the fast-moving current.

"The current began to make the victim come into distress and he began calling out for help," said Samantha Karges, a spokesperson for Humboldt County Sheriff's Office.

Two adults and one child tried to rescue the man by driving a tractor through the floodwaters. But the tractor stalled in the high water, and they lost sight of the victim, according to Karges.

Deputies in a jet boat rescued the three people from the tractor, and the children from the home on Wednesday night. None of them suffered major injuries.

Authorities found the victim's body when they resumed their search and rescue efforts Thursday morning. The man's name has not been made public, pending notification of his family.

The National Weather Service said rain is expected to return to the area next week, but that it won't be enough to cause significant flooding again.

“The floodwaters have receded in the area, so we're just kind of assessing damages and dealing with the aftermath of cleanup from flooding," said Karges.

KQED's Hope McKenney contributed to this report.

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