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Whitewater River security patrol stops hundreds of cars, extended through Oct.

A private security firm hired to patrol the Whitewater River area near Interstate 10 is keeping hundreds of people away from the dangerous water every week, according to data collected by the Coachella valley Water District (CVWD).

CVWD hired Southwest Protective Services to provide security patrols daily — initially from sunrise to sunset from May 20 and until Sept. 30. Given its success, the agency has now approved an extension through the end of October.

In the peak of summer, the guard turned away 469 cars in one week. Last week, 267 vehicles tried to gain access to the dangerous riverbed, including more than 100 on Sunday alone.

“I would say these numbers definitely surpass what we expected, especially this late in the year,” said Katie Evans, director of communications and conservation with CVWD. “Seeing this volume of vehicles coming by every weekend is still a lot.”

Last September, a father and son drowned in the river. 41-year-old David Martinez-Garcia died while attempting to save his 7-year-old son, David Martinez. Both were swept away by the current. CAL FIRE says rescues have been made at the river every year.

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