Fisherman dies of heart attack on Russian River

A man collapsed and died Wednesday on the Russian River near Forestville shortly after catching a fish, firefighters said.

The incident was reported about 1:50 p.m. near Riverfront Park, not far from the Dry Creek inlet, said Michael Elson, acting battalion chief of the Windsor Fire Department.

The man, who was not identified, had just landed a steelhead trout when he collapsed of what could have been a heart attack on the shore, Elson said.

“Apparently he had just caught a fish,” Elson said. “It appears he suffered some sort of medical issue.”

His exact location was not immediately known, so dispatchers pinged his cellphone to try to pinpoint him. Windsor firefighters launched a rescue boat in one direction and Forestville firefighters sent their own craft in the other, Elson said.

He was found in about 30 minutes, lying on the shore as friends tried to resuscitate him, Elson said.

Firefighters took over life-saving efforts and transported him by boat to a waiting ambulance at Wohler Bridge, Elson said.

But the man died before reaching the bridge, he said.

The search with two motorized rescue boats stirred up the water, angering some fishermen who did not know a rescue was underway, Elson said.

Usually, firefighters try not to disturb anglers but they had to act fast to try to save the unconscious man who had stopped breathing, he said.

“The rescue crews were speeding up and down the river,” Elson said. “They were getting yelled at and getting the finger.”

Elson said it was the first rescue attempt since Windsor Fire started the boat program about 10 months ago.

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or On Twitter @ppayne.

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