An 8-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother died after they were swept away by a Central California river they were traveling in with their mother in what authorities are calling extraordinarily dangerous conditions.
The two children were swept away by the rushing waters of the Kings River Sunday afternoon, Fresno County authorities said. They had traveled in the water with their mother and her friend to reach “a certain rock to climb,” according to a news release from Fresno County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Botti.
The river has been closed since mid-March to recreational users after violent storms and melting snow pushed the water level up and created dangerous conditions, Botti said.
“Conditions in our waterways will only become more dangerous heading into the summer as the snow melts and dams release even more water into the rivers,” the news release said. The water remains cold, in the low 50s, the current is swift, and trees serve as dangerous obstacles.”
Authorities responded Sunday and began searching for the two children after they were swept away. The young girl was found dead less than an hour after the search, Botti said.
More than three dozen rescuers helped search for the 4-year-old boy, using methods including boats, drones and remote-controlled vehicles, Botti said.
The boy was found on Monday morning, the authorities said.
The child was found trapped against a tree Monday morning, a little less than two miles from where he was swept away, Botti said. None of the children were wearing life jackets, according to the release
“People don’t realize how powerful water is,” Fresno County Sgt. Matthew Hamilton told CNN affiliate KFSN. “It’s just not worth it.”
Authorities have not offered a timeline for when the river will reopen for recreational use, the news release noted, adding that water levels “are being monitored on a daily basis and a decision to reopen the rivers will be made when these exceptionally dangerous conditions improve.”