Wofford Heights woman campaigns for Kern River warning signs

Becky McTigue, owner of The Vintage Peacock Boutique in Wofford Heights, Calif., started a GoFundMe page to raise money to put up warning signs around portions of the Kern River. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

The Kern River continues to prove itself deadly.

Search-and-rescue officials said this year there have been seven confirmed drownings in the Kern River and numerous rescues.

Becky McTigue owns The Vintage Peacock Boutique in Wofford Heights and has lived in the area most of her life. She said locally most people know about the dangers of the Kern River, but she does not feel enough is being done to warn tourists.

Aside from the big sign at the mouth of the canyon, heading in from Bakersfield, and a few life jacket reminder signs, McTigue said there is nothing along the river to warn people who are coming from out of town.

"There is nothing on the other side when you come from the 14, there are no signs coming that way," she said.

This is why McTigue started a GoFundMe page that would help make signs and pamphlets to put along the Kern River.

"I have no idea what will come of this. I just hope something happens. Something has to happen," McTigue said. "There are warning signs at the beach, at any public pool ... I mean, can we just get a couple of signs that warn us of the changing river currents?"

McTigue said although she has seen a lot of support, she is also getting a lot of backlash from the community.

"It's always back and forth, and it's this far left and far right opinion, but no one is in the middle, and nobody is doing anything," she said. "I am thinking of our economy with this in mind. I'm not trying to scare people off. I'm trying to attract them and make them feel safe with their family."

McTigue said she has received positive feedback, and the family of a man who died in the river reached out to her to show support.

"One of the family members messaged me and thanking me, saying her brother wasn't stupid, he was just naive, and they have been to that spot for years, and it was just a stronger current under the water," she said.

McTigue said this is just the beginning, and she is ready and willing to work with officials to make this happen. She is also looking for people who own private property along the Kern River who would let her put up signs.

"I'm open to any suggestions. I just feel like something has to happen," McTigue said. "I may never know that I saved a life, but if I saved one person's life that makes it worth it."

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