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Divers suspend search for missing swimmer

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Rescuers have suspended the search for an Auburn man who disappeared Saturday while swimming in the American River. However, the Placer County Sheriff’s Department is continuing air operations efforts. Noe Antonio Rodriguez, 21, was with friends near “No Hands” bridge, below Auburn, when he went into the water about 2:30 p.m., according to the Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff’s dive rescue team and the Placer County helicopter Falcon 30 conducted an extensive search for Rodriguez but could not locate him, Lt. Jeffrey Ausnow, sheriff’s spokesman, said in a press release. The search was called off because of the dangerously swift and cold waters of the American River and the uncertainty of where Rodriguez could be, Ausnow said. The Sheriff’s Department was broadening its air search over the river Sunday, using the Falcon 30 as well as a California Highway Patrol helicopter. The American River confluence area — where the North and Middle forks meet — can be particularly treacherous in early spring, according to Eric Peach, conservation chairman of Protect American River Canyons. “You have two rivers coming together, so you have that extra velocity and cold water, which makes it even harder to swim across safely,” he said Sunday. Peach, an avid outdoorsman, has decades of experience on the American River. “You shouldn’t go into the river this time of year without a life jacket,” he said. Although the air temperature warms in April and May, it can take much longer for the water. “This was snow just hours before — it’s liquid snow,” he said. “The North Fork (the one that Lake Clementine is on), does warm up in June, maybe. The Middle Fork doesn’t warm up that much because it is released from the bottom of up-stream reservoirs. So there’s danger well into June. Especially in a year like we’re having now.” - Gloria Young