The bodies of an 8-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother were found within 24 hours of each other in Fresno County’s fast-moving Kings River, ending a frantic search for the pair, authorities said.
According to the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, the girl was discovered first — on Sunday afternoon, less than an hour after rescuers had launched their search. Her brother’s body was spotted Monday morning, two miles downstream and pinned against a tree.
About 40 search and rescue crew members, including members of Cal Fire/Fresno County and Fresno firefighters, assisted in the search, Fresno County Sheriff John Zanoni said in a statement. River boats, a remote-controlled vehicle, drones and helicopters were all used in the search.
The effort started Sunday afternoon after the two siblings, their mother and an adult friend went for a swim near the Pine Flat Dam in Piedra shortly before 2 p.m.
They entered the Kings River despite signs throughout the estuary saying the area was closed, authorities said. Visitors had been banned since March 14 due to “high water levels” and “hazardous conditions” from heavy winter storms and melting snow, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The four attempted to reach a rock as they forded the river, only for the children to get swept away. Neither child was wearing a life preserver.
A sheriff’s helicopter spotted the drowned girl shortly after the search began. Less than 24 hours later, her brother was also found.
Zanoni did not provide a condition for the mother or the family friend.
In the news release, Zanoni noted that the river remains treacherous and that there is no timetable for its opening.
“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,” he said. “The water remains cold, in the low 50s, the current is swift and trees serve as dangerous obstacles.”