MISSION VIEJO : Student Drowns During Lake Outing

A college student from Mission Viejo drowned while on a family outing near Huntington Lake in Fresno County after sliding down a rocky area into a churning hydraulic hole that trapped the woman under water for about two hours, authorities said Friday.

Danielle Denos, 19, was swimming about 11 a.m. Wednesday in Big Creek River, which dumps into Huntington Lake, in an area where water revelers slide down a rocky area into a natural pool, said Deputy Coroner John Bowen, Fresno County Coroner’s Office.

But this year, the current has been “tremendously strong” because of the excessive rain and snow last winter, causing treacherous situations for swimmers, Fresno County sheriff deputies said.

“This has been a bad year,” Deputy Dan Cervantes said. “We’ve had drowning after drowning after drowning.”


Denos was sliding down the rocky area of the river with her brother, Richard Denos, when she was pulled into the water trap, Cervantes said. When Richard Denos noticed that his sister did not surface from the natural pool, he jumped in to look for her but was unable to find her, Cervantes said.

Rescuers donned ropes and breathing apparatuses and searched for almost two hours before locating the woman, who was pinned to the bottom of the hole by water pressure, Cervantes said.

In an unrelated Aug. 5 incident, a father and son disappeared in similar hydraulic holes in Madera County and their bodies have not been found, Bowen said.