Nevada County sheriff: Authorities identify victim in river death (VIDEO)

The Union

UPDATE at 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 27:

Authorities have identified the deceased as Mario Benassi, 23, of Colfax.

Benassi died Tuesday afternoon in the South Yuba River, near the Highway 49 bridge. An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday, said Mike Sullivan, chief deputy coroner.

“He was swimming with friends,” Sullivan said. “It appears that he got stuck in the rocks.”

Initially posted:

A male swimming Tuesday afternoon in the South Yuba River has died, Sheriff Keith Royal said.

The male — whose name, age and city of residence are unknown — died after being underwater for some 10 minutes around 3 p.m., he added.

Authorities responded to where Highway 49 crosses the river after someone called about the male getting caught underwater between rocks. A group of people were upstream of the bridge when the deceased became stuck, the sheriff said.

A California Highway Patrol helicopter helped recover the victim from the river.

The person later was taken from the scene. Life-saving procedures were attempted on the victim, though he died, Royal said.

The Tuesday death is the second reported this month at the river.

Christian Cotter, 23, of Elk Grove, died June 5 after his ankle became stuck between rocks. First-responders pulled his body from the river, about a half mile downstream of the Highway 49 bridge, authorities said.

On May 18, a woman was saved after three people pulled her from the river. An eyewitness said she spotted the woman floating down river near the bridge and jumped in to save her. Two others assisted, with one of them providing CPR.

Authorities have warned people about swift currents. They say water can push people against rocks, making it difficult to escape.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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