"This water does not care who you are. If you get stuck in this current, it's going to take you,” authorities said while warning people.
A brother and sister died after they were swept down a raging river that was closed to the public at the time. The 4-year-old boy and 8-year-old girl were with their mom and her adult friend on Sunday, May 21, afternoon when they entered Kings River, about a mile down from Pine Flat Dam. According to a press release from the Fresno County Sheriff's Office (FCSO) the group was venturing out to “a specific rock to climb on." They "fell into" the river just before 2:00 p.m. local time and were "swept downstream."
"The current carried the kids away," the officials reported. Less than an hour later, the girl was discovered dead in the river, according to the FCSO. Nearly two kilometers from where his sister was discovered, the boy's body was discovered on Monday morning "beneath the water caught against a tree," reports PEOPLE. According to the sheriff's office, neither youngster was wearing a life jacket at the time of the event. The FCSO Search and Rescue Sergeant Matthew Hamilton said that the family encountered difficulties soon after arriving at the river, as per ABC station KFSN-TV.
I can't begin to know the sorrow and heartache this mom must b feeling. To lose 2 children at once must be heart wrenching. Children r supposed 2 bury their parents, not parents burying children. So sorry! 😢 https://t.co/Y6QCmC1YbM— Sharon Peppers (@SharonPeppers1) May 23, 2023
The "swift" Kings River's water temperatures on Monday were "in the low 50s," according to a news statement from the FCSO. Authorities also state that the Kings and San Joaquin Rivers have been off-limits to recreational users since March 14. Sheriff John Zanoni said, "heavy winter storms and melting snow" have resulted in "high water levels and hazardous conditions." Giving a statement on the tragic occurrence to KMPH, Hamilton said, “Hopefully this is a lesson and people really take warning and really take this seriously that it's not a joke. We can't have people recreating around the water because of how dangerous it is.”
A minimum $225 charge is imposed on anyone who accesses prohibited rivers "for emergency purposes". It is uncertain at the moment when the circumstances will sufficiently improve for the canals to open again in a secure manner. As snow continues to melt and "dams release even more water into the rivers," the sheriff's office predicts that river conditions will "become more dangerous" as summer approaches. According to the outlet, FCSO Lieutenant Brandon Pursell said individuals who let kids swim while they are watching them might be charged with child negligence and endangering the welfare of a child.
According to Hamilton, while looking for the kids, emergency personnel spotted some people trying to "recreate around the water" and had to "chase them back out," according to KMPH. “This is a dangerous situation [that] you are putting you and your family in jeopardy when you get near the water,” Pursell told the outlet. He added, “This water does not care who you are, it does not care how good of a swimmer you think you are. If you get stuck in this current, it is going to take you.”
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Fresno County Sheriff's Office