FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE/KRON) – The bodies of a four-year-old boy and his eight-year-old sister were found in the Kings River after the children were swept away.
According to the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, a firefighter spotted the boy beneath the water and caught against a tree on Monday. The boy’s body was two miles downstream from where the siblings entered the river.
His sister’s body was found on Sunday a fifth-of-a-mile downstream.
“There was a family gathering of some sort,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Brandon Pursell. The family gathered somewhere they should not have been, he added.
The brother, sister, and their mother were trying to climb a rock in the Kings River Sunday afternoon when the children were swept away by a strong current, the Sheriff’s Office said.
“This occurred after the children, their mother, and her adult friend entered the water off the shoreline about a mile down from Pine Flat Dam. The group was trying make their way out to a specific rock to climb on when the current carried the kids away. Neither were wearing life jackets,” the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office wrote.
Deputies received a 911 call reporting that the children were swept away.
The drownings happened nearly two months after the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office closed the Kings River and San Joaquin River.
“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 … under any circumstance,” Pursell said.
Rivers across California are swollen from last winter’s drenching rain and snow storms. The Kings River is currently flowing at 13,000 cubic feet per second.
The identities of the two young children have not been officially released.
Monday’s search effort for the boy included boats on the river, a remote controlled vehicle in the water, drones, a helicopter, and 40 search and rescue personnel. His body was recovered.
Both the Kings and San Joaquin rivers have closed to all recreational users since March 14. Sheriff John Zanoni ordered the indefinite closures in response to intense winter storms and melting snow that created high water levels.
Current conditions in these two rivers are “extraordinarily dangerous,” the Sheriff’s Office wrote. Numerous closure signs were placed along the waterways informing the public of the importance of staying out of the water.
“The conditions of our waterways will only become more dangerous heading into summer as snow melts and dams release even more water into the rivers. The water remains cold, in the low 50s, the current is swift and trees serve as dangerous obstacles. There is no timetable of when rivers will be reopened for recreational use,” the Sheriff’s Office wrote.
Anyone accessing the rivers is considered to be in violation of Penal Code 409.5(c), unauthorized entry to an area closed for emergency purposes. This infraction comes with a minimum fine of $225.