Texas teen drowns during deadly Russian River weekend

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office has identified a boy who drowned in the Russian River in Guerneville on Sunday as 17-year-old Jaime Ticas, of Texas.

The sheriff’s office was notified around 6 p.m. Sunday about a missing boy, Monte Rio Fire Protection District Chief Steve Baxman said.

The boy had not been seen for a few hours and was presumed to have wandered off. The Russian River Fire Protection District began a boat search of the river around 6:30 p.m. and the Monte Rio Fire Protection District launched a boat with an underwater camera around 7:30 p.m., Baxman said.

The boy’s body was found about a half-mile from Johnson’s Beach in about 10 feet of water 40 feet offshore around 8:20 p.m., Baxman said.

The teen, who was said to be a good swimmer, was seen earlier Sunday swimming from the north side of the river to the south side, according to Baxman.

Al Cooper, owner of the Guerneville Lodge located in the area, said Ticas’ family was staying at one of the nearby campgrounds. The drowning was the second that occurred in the Russian River over the weekend.

A kayaker also drowned Saturday afternoon near Duncans Mills. The Sonoma County coroner’s office identified the kayaker as 23-year-old Edgar Mejia of Santa Rosa.

Witnesses called 911 after the kayak capsized west of the Casini Ranch Family Campground at 22855 Moscow Road. A caller said one of two kayakers was in distress and having difficulty staying afloat, Sonoma County sheriff’s Lt. Al Vernon said.

Sheriff’s deputies and fire and medical personnel responded around 4 p.m. The kayaker disappeared underwater for several minutes before he was located and rescued, Vernon said.

Resuscitation efforts failed and Mejia was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:34 p.m. Baxman said Mejia was camping with his family, but couldn’t swim and was not wearing a life jacket.