The search continues for a child washed up in the Kern River near Lake Isabella

Two days after a child was thrown into the Kern River near Lake Isabella in Kern County, authorities are still searching for a lead to the missing teen.

Dispatchers were called around 2:18 p.m. Saturday about a child who was washed up in the river near Keyesville south of the lake, according to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.

The child had been in the water for about 20 minutes before authorities were notified, MPs said Monday.

“Several youths entered the river in knee- to calf-deep water while an adult family friend was watching over them,” MPs said. “The youth slipped and fell into the river and the family friend jumped after him.”

Search and rescue efforts continued Monday night, said Lori Meza, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office. A crew should be deployed on Tuesday morning if the child has not been found by Monday evening.

The child, whose age was not known, slipped on a rock and was swept away by the current, Meza said. The adult who jumped after the child had to be rescued by the authorities.

When that adult tried to save the child, the other children in the group had to go back to a larger group of adults to find someone to call 911, she said.

Meza said that having an adult supervising children playing in the river is not enough to ensure safety.

A popular whitewater rafting destination, the Kern is known to be risky, especially during years of heavy snow cover in the mountains.

As temperatures rise in spring and summer, the river swells with snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada. Rapid, cold water attracts visitors with rafts and tubes.

Authorities warn it could take as little as four minutes for him to drown, and even less if the strong current knocks someone against rocks or traps them in thickets of branches and roots along the riverbank.

The river contains many flat areas with rocks that channel water into narrow spaces where the flow increases, Meza said. The top of the river looks calm, but a strong undercurrent easily attracts people.

“It’s a very dangerous river,” she said. “Many of our victims come from Los Angeles and San Bernardino County each year. It’s not a safe river to really play in.”

People should not enter the water unless they have to, and if a group includes children, there should be more than one adult who is supervised, she said.

All people going into the river should wear flotation devices such as life jackets, Meza said.

Even in a year with reduced snowmelt, the river easily lives up to its nickname “killer core”.

This year, when California was hit by a drought, snow cover in the mountains that month was just 38% of the long-term average.

Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered city water utilities to implement more aggressive protective measures, urging them to activate Stage 2 of their local drought emergency plans to prepare for shortages.

But an ongoing drought and low snowpack don’t mean the Kern River is without risk, said Andy Bollenbacher, a weather forecaster with the Hanford Bureau of the National Weather Service.

Bollenbacher repeated Meza’s warnings.

“This river is always dangerous,” he said.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-04-04/search-for-child-swept-into-kern-river-near-lake-isabella-keyesville The search continues for a child washed up in the Kern River near Lake Isabella

Dais Johnston

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