Body of missing swimmer, 13, recovered from Russian River

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A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the Martin Rivas family. To donate, go to

A daylong search for a 13-year-old Rio Nido boy who went swimming in the Russian River late Wednesday night ended in heartbreak Thursday with the discovery of his body about 40 yards downstream from where he was last seen.

Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office dive team members found the body of Diego Rivas submerged in the river about 12:40 p.m. Later that afternoon, authorities also rescued a man who had been stuck underwater near Mom’s Beach in Forestville and transported him to a local hospital for treatment.

There were no signs of foul play in Rivas’s death, Sgt. Juan Valencia said. It is presumed he drowned, but an autopsy will determine the official cause of death.

The search had drawn community concern since authorities announced the boy’s disappearance late Wednesday. He had gone swimming in the river near Canyon 1 Road in Rio Nido about 10:30 p.m. with a friend, Valencia said. The friend’s father called him home and the boy left, but Rivas remained.

When he didn’t return to his mother’s Rio Nido home, authorities began searching.

Members of the Russian River community shared the news of Rivas’s disappearance and some volunteered to help search for him. The Sheriff’s Office asked residents to keep an eye out for the boy.

Valencia said Thursday morning that the boy’s phone, clothes and shoes were found along the river near where the friend said they went swimming.

“It sounds like he knew how to swim,” Valencia said.

Crews searched overnight Wednesday and all morning Thursday without success. Sonoma County sheriff’s searchers considered he may have left the area voluntarily, but focused on the water since that was where Rivas was last confirmed to be.

Search and rescue personnel combed the river banks by foot throughout the Rio Nido area, while a CHP helicopter on loan from the Napa office assisted with overhead searches.

The boy’s family and friends gathered at the search site hoping for good news.

The sheriff’s boating unit searched the river from the water, while the department’s dive team arrived Thursday morning to search underneath the surface.

Shortly after 12:30 p.m., the dive team found the boy’s body submerged in the water.

Later that same day, at 4:17 p.m., authorities received reports of a second possible drowning, this time at Mom’s Beach in Forestville.

Officials learned that a man approximately 25 years old had waded out into the shallow water, when suddenly it became deep and he went under, said Forestville Fire Capt. Matt Eggleston. Bystanders reported that it looked as though the man didn’t know how to swim.

Multiple bystanders began searching for him, and one ultimately found him about 30 feet out from the shore, Eggleston said. Officials brought him to shore and performed CPR on him until a CHP helicopter landed and transported him to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

Eggleston didn’t know the patient’s condition as of Thursday night, and officials at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital couldn’t be reached for comment.

Staff Writer Chantelle Lee contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 707-521-5470 or

How To Help

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the Martin Rivas family. To donate, go to

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