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23 Arrested at Rafting Gone Wild on American River

Most rafters behave, some clean up.

Twenty-three people were arrested during Saturday's event along the American River but police say the numbers could have easily been higher.

Five vehicles were towed and 58 parking citations were issued, Dep. Jason Ramos of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. The number of arrests appears to be up over the , when there were at least 10 arrests.

Media reports had the number of water rescues this year at 15, down from more than 50 in 2011. Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District officials have not returned messages from Patch to confirm this year's numbers.

One sheriff's patrol vehicle was damaged after a handcuffed arrestee ran toward the car and launched himself onto the windshield with his shoulder, cracking it, Ramos said.

"The number of arrests here is in no way indicative of how big of a problem this event actually is," Ramos said in a released statement.

More than 3,000 people were estimated to have attended this year's gathering that was heavily promoted on Facebook. Most behaved relatively well early on and throughout the day, with fights breaking out at in Carmichael in the afternoon.

The fights were intermittent and police are still unsure of how they began, Ramos said.

"With our limited resources, often the only thing that we can do is break up the fights, if they seem like mutual combatants, and send the parties on their way in different directions (barring any serious injuries having been inflicted, of course)," Ramos wrote in an email.

Some rafters held a clean-up of the area after the event to collect beer cans, beads and other debris.

There were several other people arrested who were turned away at the jail by medical staff during the intake process because they had been tased as a crowd-control mechanism or were too highly intoxicated, Ramos said. Those individuals were transported home.

Ramos said that with more police staffing, the arrests from this event could easily have exceeded 50.  

Sac Metro Fire and the Sheriff's Office were joined by park rangers and the on boats and jet skis and in helicopters, said Sac Metro Fire Batallion Chief Mark Repetto.

On the event's Facebook page, attendees' comments range from saying the event should be held more often and seeking information and videos on the fights to what they say is the media's focus on the arrests.

"I was out both last year and this year for the event and plan to go next year," Nick Domanovich of Roseville posted. "It’s a blast and also a shame when the media focuses and the VERY few idiots that caused trouble and NOT the positive like the litter pick up that came after the event to help clean the river of trash and debris."

Officials are considering expanding a holiday weekend ban on alcohol on the river, The Sacramento Bee reports.

In 2006, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance prohibiting alcohol on the parkway during the Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays, The Bee reported. The state Legislature in 2007 extended the holiday ban to the American River itself between Hazel and Watt avenues.

County supervisor Don Nottoli told The Bee he plans to initiate a discussion about possibly extending the ban year-round or on a seasonal basis or for large events.

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What do you think of Saturday's "Rafting Gone Wild" gathering- just a day of fun on the river or drunken debauchery that used law enforcement's resources? Tell us in a comment below.

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Angel Cakes July 17, 2012 at 08:42 PM
I didnt witness any fights that day only that Gilligans Island was shut down. I did hear from alot of people who went got cars towed, or hurt in fights that didnt even involve them, The fights just erupted and I guess anyone rafting by. But again, I witnessed none of that.
Kayleen Hollis July 18, 2012 at 01:48 AM
This was my first River Gone Wild event an I had a blast. We kept our trash in our rafts and even picked up extra stuff when it floated by. I didn't see any fights but I did hear about people getting paintballed by the cops. The current was strong and it was hard to get back to my raft when we pulled up to the shore and everyone was clustered together since mud island was closed. All and all I can't wait to do this again next year!

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