Use extreme caution in Kern River, search-and-rescue leader says


A considerably smaller snow pack this year will make for a tamer Kern River, but search-and-rescue officials say not to underestimate the power of the current.

Later this week, county officials plan to update the sign at the mouth of the Kern River Canyon, adding 13 to the running total of people killed in the river.

"That's a huge number," said Sgt. Zach Bittle. "It's a number we haven't seen since 1985."

Two teams will be deployed over the holiday weekend, one at Hart Park and the other near Lake Isabella.

"Even though the area may look very calm on the surface of the water, a river has undercurrents and undertows that can take you from the surface, pull you under and keep you there," Bittle said.

Those who plan to relax by the river are urged to wear life jackets when entering the water and keep a sharp eye out for children.

Bittle said pool toys and flotation devices designed for backyard swimming pools can't be counted on.

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