Deadly holiday weekend
on roaring Kern River:
By Rong-Gong Lin
A 40-year-old man died after falling into the river from a boat managed by a commercial rafting company that was navigating the Cable Run, which is classified as a Class IV rapid, according to the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department. Class IV rapids are intense and turbulent, and can feature large, unavoidable waves that can require fast maneuvers.
The man was unresponsive when he was pulled out of the river north of Kernville, the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement. Rescuers performed CPR for about 20 minutes; he was rushed to Kern Valley Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The man was wearing a life jacket.
Water temperatures were in the mid-40s, said Tulare County Sheriff’s Lt. Kevin Kemmerling.
Falling into the river -
On Saturday, a man in his 40s died after falling into the river from a raft operated by Sierra South, a local outfitter, Kemmerling said. The raft was navigating the Cable Run, a Class IV rapid that is intense and turbulent.
The accident occurred about five miles north of Kernville, where the river water was 40 degrees, Kemmerling said. Rescuers performed CPR for about 20 minutes; he was rushed to Kern Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Tom Moore, president of Sierra South, said the man was part of a church group and was a last-minute substitute.
He was wearing a wetsuit and life jacket, Moore said. The man fell backward out of the inflatable raft when it was hit by a wave, he added.
The man was able to grab on to a kayak that had been tailing the raft, and after grabbing hold of a paddle he was pulled back onto the raft, Moore said. He was following commands and was responsive, but he collapsed shortly after he was pulled back into the boat, Moore said.
Moore said a relative of the victim told him that the coroner suspects a heart attack. The coroner was unreachable Monday night.
“We’re so sorry and so sad for him and his family,” Moore said. “In 32 years of running, we’ve never had an accident like that.”