Search for survivors when clothing, plastic rafts found along river

AZUSA, Calif. - Rescuers searched with helicopters and on foot Tuesday evening for up to three people who may have fallen from plastic rafts into the fast-flowing San Gabriel River.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department called for night vision goggles to aid helicopter officers in searching along the river north-northeast of Los Angeles. The goggles are required in night flights in mountain areas, said county Fire Dispatcher Ed Pickett.

About three dozen firefighters and sheriff's officers were involved in the search, after three sets of shoes and other clothing were found alongside the river - near where the two pool-style rafts were found in the water.

''We responded to a report of a couple of rafts found in the area, along with some clothing. The clothing was wet,'' said county Fire Battalion Chief Virgil Chance. He said the sheriff's office also was checking a report of a 16-year-old boy missing in Azusa since Monday.

''We could have none, or we could have two or three'' people missing, Chance said. The red pool rafts - about 6 feet long and torn and deflated after they snagged on rocks - were visible in the river below the Morris Dam on Tuesday afternoon.

''We're walking both sides of the river from where we feel there is the biggest possibility that somebody could be caught below the dam,'' Chance said.


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