Kayaker airlifted from American River

27-year-old in serious condition after 30-foot drop from waterfall
By: Jenifer Gee Journal News Editor
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A New Hampshire man is in serious condition after he was airlifted during a night rescue from the American River. News of the Tuesday night rescue was released Thursday afternoon by the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. At about 7:20 p.m. Tuesday, the sheriff’s air support unit was dispatched to a remote area of the American River near Health Springs in the Tahoe National Forest to rescue a kayaker. Nathan Warren, 27, reportedly landed wrong after a drop from a 30-foot waterfall and “severely injured his back,” according to Lt. Mark Reed with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. “This section of the American River is very remote but attracts extreme kayakers because of its rapids and waterfalls,” Reed said. Sgt. Van Bogardus, who is the chief pilot for the air unit, along with deputies Ashley Smentek and Josh Shelton, responded to the call and arrived on scene at about 8:30 p.m. “His friends had to hike out to get cell reception,” Bogardus said. “Cal Fire originally had the call but they had to turn it over to us because they had no resources capable of rescuing the guy from the river canyon where he was.” Bogardus said a number of factors – high attitude, a rocky hillside, having to use night goggles, and needing to refuel – led to a three-hour rescue before Warren was hoisted out of the rural terrain on a backboard and to a care flight air ambulance waiting at Blue Canyon Airport. Bogardus added that initially the crew made contact with a group from New Zealand that was within the area, who directed the pilot further up the river where Warren was waiting. Warren was flown to Sutter Roseville Medical Center. He was listed in serious condition as of Thursday afternoon, according to hospital spokeswoman Robin Montgomery. Reach Jenifer Gee at