Who was Josh Crane? Bodybuilder who died saving swimmers in American River was a Navy veteran

Crews discovered Crane's body downstream from the San Juan Rapids on July 30


                            Who was Josh Crane? Bodybuilder who died saving swimmers in American River was a Navy veteran
Josh Crane jumped off his paddle board without hesitation to rescue the swimmers (Josh Crane/Instagram)
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Bodybuilder Josh Crane, 30, jumped into the American River in California after seeing two swimmers in distress on Friday, July 29. Unfortunately, he did not make it out of the water alive even though he managed to save the two lives.

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Crane most recently competed in the Governor's Cup in 2022. He was well-known for his willingness to "do anything" to help those in need. “My brother was a humble guy and anybody who knew him knew he has the biggest heart ever imaginable. he would do anything, he'd give you the shirt off his back and just be there,” Josh's sister Jessica Crane told ABC10. “That's something that I knew that we would do. No matter where no matter what,” she added.

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Bodybuilder Josh Crane has died after trying to save two people who were rafting (Credit: Josh Crane/Instagram)
Bodybuilder Josh Crane has died after trying to save two people who were rafting (Josh Crane/Instagram)

Crane's family confirmed that he organized a group of UC Davis students to go tubing on the American River. Two of the students were caught in the rapids on their tubes. Crane is said to have jumped off his paddleboard without hesitation and saved them.

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"Two females were stuck on tubes, and my brother was on a paddleboard, and they were asking for help," said Josh Crane's sister. "So he jumped off his paddleboard, like he would to help anybody and without hesitation, without questions, jumped off his paddleboard and jumped in the water and got them out."

"This river could potentially be unforgiving," Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District Cpt Parker Wilbourn said. Crews discovered Crane's body downstream from the San Juan Rapids on July 30. He was a fourth-year medical student at UC Davis and was set to graduate next spring.

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Crane's job as a Navy veteran took him all over the world, including Camp Pendleton and as far as Japan. He joined the force right after graduating from high school.

"He was my best friend, my biggest motivator, my hero," Jessica said. "And he proved that in everything he did."

UC Davis School of Medicine wrote on Facebook, "We are deeply saddened by the recent passing of Joshua Crane, one of our MS4s, in a tragic American River accident. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones as we support each other through this heartbreaking loss. He was an extraordinary young man devoted to helping others."

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The comments were soon filled with tributes to Crane. "RIP to a real-life superhero," one person said. "RIP, blessed by his innate heroic action," said another. A third stated: "King, hero, and brother, may you rest in peace. I will miss you, may you keep lifting in heaven."

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