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Search ongoing for boy, 4, after sister, 8, dies in California river closed after storms

By Associated Press
Published: May 22, 2023, 8:02am

SANGER, Calif. (AP) — Rescuers who recovered the body of an 8-year-old girl Sunday were searching for her 4-year-old brother after the siblings were carried away by the current of a California river that was off limits because of high water levels, authorities said.

Sheriff’s deputies and firefighters responded around 2 p.m. Sunday to the Kings River in Sanger, about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from Pine Flat Dam, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said.

The girl was found dead less than an hour later by rescuers using boats and a helicopter. They did not immediately say how the child died.

The boy had not been found and a search was ongoing, the sheriff’s office said Sunday night.

The children, who were not wearing life jackets, entered the water with their mother and another adult while trying to make their way to climb on a specific rock.

The Kings and San Joaquin rivers have been closed to recreational users since March 14 because heavy winter storms and melting snow created high water levels and hazardous conditions, the sheriff’s department said.

“Numerous closure signs are placed along the waterways informing the public of the importance of staying out of the water,” the department said.

Warming weather is melting huge amounts of accumulated snow in the mountains that accumulated in a series of epic winter storms.

“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 sheriff’s office said. “The water remains cold, in the low 50s, the current is swift and trees serve as dangerous obstacles.

Further north, authorities were investigating after a body was found Friday in Folsom Lake northeast of Sacramento. And two people remained missing after being swept away by the American River in recent weeks, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said.

Authorities have warned people to exercise caution along rivers where high water levels and stronger flows are creating dangerous conditions.

“Last winter’s heavy snowpack is melting down into our rivers, and the water is colder (45 degrees), stronger and higher — it will remain that way for at least the next month, possibly longer,” the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement last week. “Be river-wise, this year IS different.”