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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.