|RP man dies rafting on American River
Stan Decker helping others when drowned by rapids
A Rohnert Park man died early in the afternoon on May 5 after a powerful current of the American River in Placer County swept him away while on a white-water rafting trip.
Stan Decker, 59, was helping fellow rafters back into the boat when he fell back into the water and was caught in a powerful current. Decker was on a guided rafting trip on the North Ford of the American River with his girlfriend, Reka Molnar of Santa Rosa. Upon arriving near Chamberlain Fall, Decker and several others were thrown from the boat.
“He got onto the raft, and then he helped three more people get into the raft,” his 20-year-old daughter Taylor Decker told the Press Democrat. “The third person pulled him into the water as they were going down another rapid.
According to details given to Taylor by Molnar, Stan Decker was swept downstream much faster than the boat could travel.
Chamberlain Fall qualifies as a Class IV rapid on the six-class international scale of river difficulty. Such rapids are deemed long with irregular waves, dangerous rocks and boiling eddies.
Those who first reached Decker and pulled him from the water administered CPR until paramedics from Cal Fire could be lowered into the canyon by a CHP helicopter. Decker was in a location – a remote area near Colfax – where it was too difficult to reach by foot or land vehicles.
Paramedics then carried him to Iowa Hill Bridge, where the CHP chopper was able to land. Decker was pronounced dead at 2:08 p.m.
Details of how Decker fell out of the boat were not available, according to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, and his death is being investigated as a fatal boating accident.
Decker was usually active in the community, having helped coach his 12-year-old son Trevor’s Cal Ripken League baseball team. He was an avid outdoorsman, taught water aerobics at the YMCA and 24 Hour Fitness gyms in Rohnert Park and Santa Rosa. He also worked at KHL Consulting in the sales department in Santa Rosa.
He was born in Virginia, moved with his family to Los Angeles when he was six and arrived in Sonoma County in 1985. Decker taught telemarketing at Heald College, DeVry University and Santa Rosa Junior College.
He was divorced with two children. Besides his children, Decker is survived by father Harold Decker, of Los Angeles; sister Patde Garris, of South Carolina; and brother Ed Decker, of Detroit.