Ongoing Search for Body of Man Lost in Kern River: Rescue Efforts and Challenges

The search continues tonight for the body of a man who passed away yesterday in the Kern River.

Around 40 workers from both Kern County and Tulare County Search and Rescue Teams gathered at the Ant Canyon Campground north of Kernville to recover the body of the kayaker who lost his life on Wednesday, June 14.

Sergeant Joe Saldana, part of the KCSO Search and Rescue, mentioned that one of the challenges they face is the current Class 5 rapids in the water they are searching. He stated, “The water is flowing swiftly here. The CFS (Cubic Feet per Second) is quite high, and there are numerous technical obstacles that complicate the situation when we are trying to reach the individual.”

KCSO is assisting the Tulare Sheriff’s Office in the rescue efforts, with swift water specialists present on site. The authorities are aware of the location of the kayaker’s body, which remains trapped along with the kayak under the surface, entangled in brush.

Ashley Ritchie, the Media Supervisor for TCSO, emphasized that the safety of the rescue team is of utmost importance. She stated, “It’s a matter of life or death. When a tragic incident like this occurs, it poses an immense risk for anyone involved in the water, even for highly experienced individuals.”

During the incident, five experienced kayakers were navigating the river when one of them encountered a hazardous situation. The remaining four kayakers attempted a rescue but were unsuccessful due to the powerful river currents.

Search and Rescue is currently formulating a plan to recover the body of the fifth kayaker. One option under consideration involves using a helicopter, but the strong river pressure would make it too challenging for a single person to extract the body. Another possibility is deploying a crew on a raft connected to a rope spanning the river.

Ritchie explained, “We are essentially monitoring the weather conditions. There’s not much we can do at the moment… We need to wait for a cooling trend. It appears that this trend will occur around Tuesday or Wednesday, and that’s when we can proceed with the recovery.”

Ethan Moore, a local professional kayaker, shared some insights off-camera about the kayakers involved, expressing the belief that the accident was not caused by the increased river flows. Instead, he described it as a freak accident.

Gary Ananian, Executive Director of the Kern River Conservancy, visited the area to learn more about the ongoing rescue efforts. He expressed his surprise, stating, “I’ve been here for 10 years, and I have never witnessed a kayaker of this level drown on this river.”

Search and Rescue plans to remain near the accident site until they can successfully retrieve the body and will provide updates as necessary.

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