Authorities said that an 8-year-old girl was found dead and her 4-year-old brother was missing after both were swept away in the Kings River in Fresno County.
The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said that the children fell into the water with their mother and her adult friend about a mile below Pine Flat Dam around 2:00 p.m. and were swept downstream.
“The group was trying to get to a certain rock to climb on when the kids were swept away by the river. “Neither was wearing a life jacket,” Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti said in a statement.
The girl’s body was found in the river less than an hour after officers, Cal Fire boats, and a sheriff’s helicopter started looking for her. Botti said that people still looked for the boy late Sunday night.
Officials from the sheriff’s office used the tragedy to show how dangerous it is to be near fast-moving waterways. This year’s record snowpack is melting and pounding down to the plains in rivers from the Sierra Nevada, where it is being carried by fast-flowing waterways.
The tweet below verifies the news:
An 8-year-old girl was found dead and a second child was missing Sunday evening after both children were reportedly swept away in Fresno County. https://t.co/trRvGF0eu7
— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) May 22, 2023
Botti stressed that both the Kings and San Joaquin Rivers have been closed to recreational use since March 14. This was done by order of Sheriff John Zanoni “because heavy winter storms and melting snow have caused high water levels and dangerous conditions.”
“Anyone who goes into the rivers without permission is breaking Penal Code 409.5(c), which says you can’t go into an area that’s closed for safety reasons,” the news release said. Violators face a $225 fine. It said that officials have put up “numerous closure signs” to stress how important it is to stay out of the water.
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“As spring turns into summer, our rivers and streams will only get more dangerous as the snow melts and dams let even more water into the rivers. The water is still cold, with a temperature in the low 50s, the current is fast, and trees make for dangerous barriers,” the release said.
There is no set date for when the rivers will be safe for leisure again. “Once these very dangerous conditions get better,” Botti said, “that will happen.”
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