FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Fresno County deputies say an eight-year-old girl is dead and a four-year-old boy is missing after the two were swept away by the fast-moving water in the Kings River on Sunday afternoon.
The Sheriff’s Office says its deputies received a 9-1-1 call just before 2:00 p.m. Sunday, reporting that two children had been swept away down the Kings River, just below Pine Flat Dam.
“There was a family gathering of some sort and we do know when we got the call there was a family there… Two children did end up in the water one eight-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy,” said Lt. Brandon Pursell with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.
After an hour of searching deputies found the girl but say it was too late.
“We put two boats in the water and we had numerous swift water rescue personnel on scene we did unfortunately recover the female deceased underwater,” Pursell continued.
Search And Rescue (SAR) crews are still looking for the 4-year-old boy.
“We’re gonna keep searching, we’re not going to give up, we’re hopeful but with the river being what it is it’s not a great chance we will have rescue personnel out till sundown tonight,” Pursell explained.
Fresno County Sheriff’s Deputy Lt. Brandon Pursell says the team will continue to use every single resource at their disposal as the search continues.
Search teams plan to leave their boats in the water for as long as is safe Sunday, and will then switch to driving the roads in their patrol vehicles, checking the river banks on foot, and utilizing FLIR technology after the sun goes down.
This drowning comes nearly two months after the Fresno County Sheriff’s office closed the Kings and San Joaquin rivers.
Pursell says the water in the Kings River is icy and cold as it is snow melt, and is currently flowing at 13,000 Cubic Feet per Second (CFS), making it even more difficult for an adult to manage.
Lt. Pursell says the family was having an outing at the river, and were somewhere they should not have been when the children were swept away in the Kings River.
The Sheriff’s Office says this tragedy should have never happened – and it was 100% preventable.
“This is exactly why we tell people to stay out of the water. You should really have common sense, you should not have children anywhere near this water today under any circumstance,” said Pursell.
If anyone is seen entering the water, authorities say there will be consequences.
“We’re gonna cite you at a minimum if you have children that you’re allowing in that water we’re gonna look at child endangerment charges and child neglect charges,” said Pursell.
The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office had to stop the search for the boy at sunset because of visibility and will begin again Monday.
Updates will come as more information becomes available.