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Valley Ford man disappeared in deep spot of Russian River at Mother’s Beach

A 25-year-old Valley Ford man who was pulled last month from the Russian River after an extended period of time underwater later died at a local hospital, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Monday.

Juan De Luna Romo had been visiting Mother’s Beach in Forestville with friends May 28 when they reportedly waded across the river to jump from a log on the other side. De Luna hit a deep spot and went under, emergency personnel said.

When he did not resurface, his companions, aided by other beach-goers, began a frantic search that continued for 10 or 20 minutes before someone with goggles found him under water, according to bystanders’ accounts and the Forestville Fire Protection District.

He was loaded onto a paddleboard just as arriving firefighters, including members of the water rescue team, were about to leave the beach, said Patrick Mills, of the Forestville fire district.

Mills said firefighters performed CPR on De Luna right on the paddleboard as they ferried him across the water. They continued working on him on the beach while awaiting a CHP helicopter, which landed on a sandbar slightly downstream.

Though emergency medics would eventually get a pulse while transporting De Luna to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, he did not survive.

Hours earlier on May 28, a 13-year-old Rio Nido boy was found dead in the river after going out for a swim the previous night. The body of Diego Rivas was recovered around 12:40 p.m.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Misti Wood said De Luna reportedly knew how to swim, so it wasn’t clear what led to his death. She said a pending autopsy report might shed some light.

The Russian River each winter churns up the riverbed, moving gravel and dirt around, and often leaves unexpected drop-offs. The river out in front of Mother’s Beach is known to be relatively shallow and only about ankle deep in the middle before getting deep along the far shore – probably 8 to 10 feet deep, Mills said.

But Mills said there were conflicting stories from friends at the scene about whether De Luna might already have jumped from the log, leaving the possibility he became injured in the process.

You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 707-521-5249 or mary.callahan@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @MaryCallahanB.

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