A 30-year-old Santa Rosa man lost his life Monday while trying to rescue his girlfriend -- who couldn't swim -- from a strong current. The mostly placid Russian River has deceptively strong whirlpools in some spots, and Juan Martinez Leon and his girlfriend Patricia Calindo, 24, were playing in the water near Monte Rio around 2 p.m. when they got swept about 20 yards downstream. Leon went underwater while trying to keep Calindo afloat, and she was quickly pulled ashore by a kayaker.
Calindo was screaming that her boyfriend was still in the water, but he disappeared, and people who had rushed into the water from the beach were unable to find him. Rescuers eventually pulled his body out of the water six hours later.
Leon was the father of a ten-year-old boy, and a worker at Boathouse Sushi in Santa Rosa.