'Killer' Kern River Claims 7th Drowning Victim This Year

Victim ignored officials' warnings about fast water due to snow melt
By Josh Rosenblatt,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2017 1:30 PM CDT
'Killer' Kern River Claims 7th Drowning Victim This Year
A file phote of the Kern River. It's running dangerously high now because of winter melt in California.   (AP Photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie)

A deadly year for California's Kern River got even deadlier over the weekend when authorities pulled two more bodies from the water. The Los Angeles Times reports that eight people have died along the river nicknamed the "Killer Kern" since March, though one of those fatalities was a heart attack. At least two others remain missing. One of those pulled from the river Saturday has been identified as Michael Ramirez, a 27-year-old Orange County rapper who disappeared while swimming on June 22. Also Saturday, a 22-year-old Los Angeles man drowned after being warned about the dangers. Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service officials say they warned him and his cousins about jumping from rocks into the river that morning, Bakersfield.com reports.

The warning apparently went unheeded, however, and he was dragged into the main current and underneath the surface. His body was found by a nearby campground. Authorities say the rise in drownings on the 165-mile river is likely due to visitors being unused to such high waters and fast currents, the Times reports. Last winter was one of the wettest on record and followed five years of drought. Snow melting on the Sierra Nevada has caused the Kern to swell with cold, fast-moving water. In 2011, the last big-water year in California, three people drowned in the Kern on the Fourth of July, and authorities are warning people to keep away this year. (More Kern river stories.)

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