NewsCovering Kern County


KCSO Search and Rescue officials prepare for Memorial Day weekend

Posted at 5:22 PM, May 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-23 20:22:47-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Kern County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue officials say that during Memorial Day weekend is when they see more calls for rescue each year.

However, with lower temperatures impacting the ricer they say this year may be a little different.

"Consistently we have rescue calls every year on Memorial weekend Saturday, Sunday and Monday," Sgt. Steve Williams of the Kern County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue crew.

According to Williams crews are preparing for the holiday.

Williams said even though Memorial Day Weekend is a notorious party weekend, forecasted colder temperatures may impact the usual influx of people.

"I think that it will impact the number of people that are going to try to swim in the river this weekend, I think it will probably result in less rescue calls," Sgt.Williams said

Since 1968, 298 people have died from Kern River related deaths including three people in the past year.

"That was down from 2017 where we had 16," Sgt.Williams said.

According to Williams, the number of fatalities varies due to factors like ambient air temperature and the amount of snowmelt runoff from the mountains that increases river flow. Williams said no one died in the Kern River last Memorial Day weekend but officials still have tips for those planning a river trip.

"Things like wearing personal floatation devices, not consuming alcohol or drugs and then entering the water. Also looking to professional guide companies as a safe source of recreation in the river," Sgt. Williams said.

Officials said if you find yourself in the river in the wrong state or unprepared don't panic.

"Assume the lounge chair position that we spoke about before with your feet down river and your butt down and don't fight the river. Let it take you to a spot where you can safely get out of it without expending all of your energy."

Sgt. Williams says even though the Kern River is not as high as it was in 2017 it is still moving very quickly and there is a lot of water coming out of the mountains. He said it's more than enough to be fatal for swimmers.