Boy goes missing in Russian River after swimming with friends

A young swimmer has disappeared in the Russian River, authorities said, prompting a massive search that continued into Friday. 

The Sonoma County Fire District said the boy was last seen in the water around 4:40 p.m.  near Steelhead Beach in Forestville on Thursday. He was swimming with a group of friends when he went missing in the water, according to officials.  

The initial call was for two children who were lost in the water. When first responders arrived, one child had been found safe already. The sheriff's office has not released the age of the boy still missing.

Water rescue dive teams were on site searching by boat and on jet skis, but water conditions are making the search difficult. 

"You’ve got a lot of water in the river right now so the water is moving quickly, it’s swift, there’s a lot of debris from the winter," said Rob Dillon, the public information officer with the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office. "That much water and that much turbulence, it kicks up stuff off the bottom which makes visibility really difficult. So a lot of times you can be underwater and not be able to see a foot in front of your face."  

The Napa County Sheriff's Office brought a submersible and the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office has a special type of sonar that helps map out the terrain at the bottom of the river. 

Sonoma County fire officials urge people to be cautious of the dangers while in the Russian River during this time of year, when it's cold and running.

"We caution people at this time of year to really watch the water. The water is moving fast. It is still at a high level. If you are not an experienced swimmer, you should not swim in the Russian River at this time," said Sonoma County Battalion Chief Shawn Johnson. 

"I know the temperatures are up outside, and it draws people to the river, but we caution you and everybody to be very careful because this is a very common occurrence when the water is moving at the rate it is," he said.

Johnson says hypothermia is a big concern.

The Sheriff's Office said the search will continue, as long as it's safe, until the boy is recovered, or they run out of area to search.