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WARNING: The footage contained in this video is difficult to watch. 

The American River is more than 100 miles long and runs through the heart of Sacramento. It’s known for the beautiful waters and scenic hiking trails along its banks, but for 19-year-old Ray Cabalfin, the waterway turned out to be a very dangerous place.

Cabalfin was hiking with a group of friends in Auburn, California on May 11 when they decided to have a quick swim in the river. Two people jumped in, Ray and a girl. The girl hopped in close to shore and was able to make it back to solid ground with a few vigorous strokes. Ray wasn’t so lucky.


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In the harrowing video, there are a few gleeful yelps as Ray is swept down the American River. Another hiker dismisses the situation, saying “no, he’s good.” However, the scene quickly takes a serious turn as his companions realize that Ray is unable to reach the shore. When the camera cuts off, Ray is treading water in the middle of the river — it was the last time Ray was seen alive.

His family has reached out on Facebook, looking for help to find their missing son. According to a Facebook post shared by the family, the other hikers quickly dialed 911. The family also wrote,

“The California State Parks Ranger’s Dept. as well as Fire & Rescue responded immediately and within the hour they had a helicopter equipped with a FLIR thermal imaging system searching the area. They worked all evening with divers, kayakers, and other resources, but unfortunately they were unable to locate him.”

The Sacremento Bee spoke to an official at the park where Ray went missing who said “it’s not likely that he’s alive…if he was alive, we would have found him.” Authorities have requested that people stay out of the river, noting that a “historically large snowpack this year has made water flows higher and cooler.”

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Searches for Ray continue, though they’ve taken on a grimmer note. On Wednesday, a group of men in kayaks searched the American River where Ray was last seen for more than two hours and on Thursday, cadaver dogs are expected to be brought to the area where Ray was last seen. His family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with the financial expenses incurred in their search for their son.

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