Memorial Day Kern River Dangers

Posted at 6:30 PM, May 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-25 21:33:01-04

Memorial Day will mark one of the busiest days on the Kern River and with that potential danger.  23ABC’s Adam Bowles was at the Kern River to show the power you can see this Memorial Day.


Increasing levels of Kern River are dangerous

Would the Kern River close after recent deaths?

This is the power of the Kern River.  We broke a lot of records in a few months alone with professionals attacking its swift currents.  Memorial Day weekend is almost here and with more water comes more people. As you can tell most of the river campsites are now full.
"Well right now we are 100% full even though the campgrounds are empty," Gill Anthony says.  "People will be pouring in here this evening and tomorrow morning into Saturday and we will have probably six to eight hundred people in the park, but the only thing that’s scary is this river."
Fear of the dangerous conditions on the river is what caused officials to close access points to some of our local rivers according to the Kern County Sheriffs Office.
"We got news yesterday that Fresno County closed portions of the Kings River and portions of the Tulare River," Zack Bittle says. "In Tulare County its still closed so were thinking many of those folks will come down to the Kern River as well so we will have more than usual." 
23ABC asked, would these closures mean a possibly of the Kern River’s access points closing?
"Its not a conversation we had here in Kern County," Zack says.  "In all practicality, there are so many access points.  There are not enough deputies to go around to conduct meaningful enforcement of something like that."
Since its likely there will be no closure on the Kern River, experts share this advice if you find yourself in danger this weekend.
"You kind of pretend like you have a lounge chair that your floating down and your body will stay buoyant," Bittle says.  "But, if you kind of get in that position and kind of lean back put your feet down stream, keep your head up and try to make your way over to safety."
The Sheriffs Office also told 23ABC you can have fun on the river. Use common sense, go on the river with a professional outfitter, and always wear a life jacket if you go for a swim; even if the water looks calm.