Authorities have determined that an 8-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother drowned after being washed away by a river in central California while traveling with their mother in what they describe as extremely unsafe conditions. On Sunday afternoon, the two kids were swept away by the raging floods of the Kings River, according to authorities in Fresno County.
Fresno County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Botti said in a press statement that the children and their mother and her friend had been swimming for hours in an attempt to reach “a specific rock to climb on.” After dangerously high water levels were caused by storms and melting snow, the river was closed to recreational users in the middle of March, Botti said.
As the winter melts and dams release more water into the rivers, “conditions of our waterways will only become more dangerous heading into summer,” the announcement said. Cold water in the low 50s, a strong current, and trees make for hazardous obstacles.
After the two kids were swept away on Saturday, authorities began searching for them on Sunday. According to Botti, the search for the girl ended in tragedy after less than an hour. According to Botti, the search for the 4-year-old youngster involved more than 30 rescuers who used boats, drones, and remote-controlled vehicles.
On Monday morning, Botti reported that the youngster had been recovered trapped against a tree fewer than two miles from where he had been swept away. According to the statement, neither child was wearing a life vest. Fresno County Sergeant Matthew Hamilton told CNN station KFSN, “People don’t realize how powerful water is. It’s not even worth trying.”
Authorities have not provided an estimated time frame for when the river will reopen for recreational usage, but the release did say that water levels “are being monitored on a daily basis and a decision to reopen the rivers will be made once these extraordinary dangerous conditions improve.”
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