SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A large fight between two families left a Modesto man with serious injuries and forced Raging Waters Park at Cal Expo to close early as officials feared for the safety of guests.
Guy McGowan was watching his 5-year old son and heard shouts over his shoulder.
“I looked to the left and there was a commotion, I knew something had broken out — a fight or something. I wasn’t sure what it was, but it was serious,” said McGowan.
It was so serious that at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday Cal Expo Police responded with force and called Sacramento Police and Park Rangers for back up as words were exchanged between two groups.
Police say what happened next was chaos.
“There were two large families… about 15 people on each side engaged in mutual combat,” said Cal Expo Police Chief Everest Robillard. “One person was down on the ground semi-unconscious.”
Police say they received conflicting reports on how the melee started.
According to McGowan, it started with an alleged assault.
“Some guy hit a female and 10 guys just beat him and he’s all messed up right now,” he said. “He wasn’t moving, barely breathing if that.”
Raging waters decided to close the park early. In a statement to CBS13, park management explained:
“On Sunday, August 25 at approximately 3 p.m., Raging Waters Sacramento park officials received a report of a verbal argument between two guests that eventually led to a physical argument with multiple guests near the Park’s lazy river. The Cal Expo Police Department was immediately informed of the incident. Due to multiple parties involved and to ensure the safety of all park guests, both Cal Expo Police Department and Raging Waters Sacramento park officials made the decision to clear the Park and suspend operations for the day, approximately an hour and a half prior to the scheduled park closing time. One guest was treated by EMT’s at the scene and was transported to the hospital in critical condition.
The safety of all Raging Waters Sacramento guests is our top priority. All further inquiries should be directed to the Cal Expo Police Department.”
Cal Expo officials later confirmed the fight is believed to have started over a beach towel.
Police identified the injured man as 35-year-old Christopher Neves of Modesto who is in critical condition and being treated at UC Davis Medical Center. The victim’s mother was also transported to the hospital after suffering an asthma attack brought on because of all the excitement.
Cal Expo Police are still investigating and will be looking at all the surveillance images and social media. Everyone involved was also interviewed and photographed. Charges are pending.
Long after the park was closed the police chief says tempers continued to flare and the department was tested.
“People were still arguing. We were doing our best with what resources we had here on the grounds to keep the opposing sides separated,” said Chief Robillard.