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'There is always hope but the chances are slim': Two teens still missing in Kern River

Posted at 8:24 PM, Jun 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-17 23:24:52-04

BAKERSFIELD,Calif. — The search continued today for a 15-year-old boy and 19-year-old man who have been missing in the Kern River since Sunday.

According to Kern County Sheriff Search and Rescue, three people fell in the Kern River, but one was able to get out.

The two teens were last seen in the river near the White-Water Trail Granite Launch area, near Lake Isabella. Sgt. Kevin Kimmel, says the family of the two teens were visiting from out of town for a camping trip.

KCSO Search and Rescue says there are a handful of volunteers that are assisting in the search and are remaining hopeful.

“There is always hope but the chances are slim,” said Kimmel.

As the hours pass Kimmel says that this is close to becoming a search and recovery, rather than a search and rescue.

The greatest challenge that the search and rescue teams are facing is the height of the river and the surrounding area.

“When coming from the Keyesville south area there are a bunch of boulders and rock along the shoreline that we have to overcome,” Kimmel said. “We put our boats and the water, and the river were running faster this time of year, so the boats had to make two to three passes to make sure we covered the area.”

KCSO says that this weekend alone they have been called out to the river many times for other rescues.

“Just yesterday we had to rescue two adults and two young people rescued from Hart park after their raft overturned thankfully, they all were ok,” said Angela Monroe, public information officer for KCSO.

“We rescued a missing jet skier from Lake Isabella yesterday and they were wearing a life jacket.”

Officials advise individuals to simply stay out of the water due to the dangerous and strong currents. This year, the river is particularly dangerous and running approximately 4x greater than normal, according to authorities.

“The snow run off that we had [created] a wet winter and a higher snow impact so the melt is more extreme than the years pass,” Kimmel said. “The easiest thing to do is to stay out of the river. That is the easiest and safest”
Kimmel tells 23ABC that the family of the missing boys have left the area as of now and have returned to home. KCSO always want to remind the community to practice extreme caution when near the Kern River.