Drowning Near Holmes Flat First of the Year


A Fortuna man was this year's first confirmed drowning victim, according to the Humboldt County Coroner's Office. Timothy Hatten, 33, was reportedly trying to rescue two children when he succumbed to the current, according to an interview with Hatten's family on the SoHum blog Redheaded Blackbelt. The children were reportedly pulled from the water by two other men who joined Hatten in the rescue effort.

The Humboldt County Coroner's office said this is the first confirmed drowning death of the year, though 22-year-old Paul Martin, of Hoopa, is presumed dead after being swept away in the Trinity River in April. His body has not been recovered. Last year there were seven drownings by June, and a total of 12 for the year.

"There's no rhyme or reason to it," said Judy Price at the coroner's office. 

From the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office:

On Sunday, June 5, 2016, at about 1:40 p.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a possible drowning in the Eel River near the Holmes Flat area. Deputies responded to the area along with Cal Fire, Redcrest Volunteer Fire Department, Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue, HCSO Special Services, and a Cal Fire helicopter. At the time of the report it was stated Timothy Hatten, 33, of Fortuna, had been underwater for approximately twenty-five minutes. Special Services Deputies were eventually able to locate and recover Hatten’s body approximately two hours later. Hatten’s body was later turned over to the Coroner’s Office.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind the public of the dangers of swimming in rivers in Humboldt County. River currents can change quickly, sometimes daily, or even by the minute. This combined with unknown and quickly changing depths of the river can be deadly. Very hot and humid days combined with low water temperatures in late spring and early fall can lead to quick cramps. Every year, Humboldt County experiences a tragic death due to swimming in the rivers and falling victim to a strong current.

Mike Downey

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