Missing Arroyo Grande man last seen on Kern River

July 12, 2011

Derrick Robert Rush, 28, of Arroyo Grande fell off an inner tube into the Kern River Friday and was not seen again. [Fresno Bee.com]

Tulare County Sheriff’s deputies continued searching for Rush after friends reported not seeing him surface when he fell into the swift-running river, swollen from heavy snowmelt, near the Whiteside campground on the Upper Kern.

Rush was not wearing cold-water gear, a helmet or a lifejacket when he fell into the 50-degree water, according to a sheriff’s spokeswoman.

As the search for Rush continued, a deputy near the Whiteside campground saw another man hurtling down the river, clinging to an inner tube.

Alfredo Reyes, 23, of North Hills was hanging onto a tube that had been tied to shore but went dangerously adrift after the rope snapped. He was not wearing protective gear.

Kern County deputies assisted in pulling Reyes from the water.

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This has always been a treacherous river . . . My grandfather lost his best friend there when he was a child.

Hat tip to Bluemule: I’ll never swim Kern River again…


“I took the high side.”

Interesting nocoskeptic, that is a whitewater rafting term used when the boat is in danger of flipping and a person is told to move to the high side of the raft to stabilize it…

IMHO, there will be a record number of drownings on all rivers this year, because of two things: Alcohol and lack of good judgement. The flows right now are at all time highs, do not go into the water especially if you do not know how to swim and do not have a PFD on, and of course do not consume mass quantities…

Wasnt there a story last week about the Kern River and warning people about the cold tempertatures and dangerous rapids. Plus they werent wearing life jackets. Come on people play safe and things like this wont happen!!!!

Yep, and that’s why they have the big sign along the highway listing the death toll and stating the safety issues. Happens every year and more so when the flows are at epic levels like this year.

This is a terrible situation that doesn’t appear to have a favorable outcome. Thoughts and prayers go to the missing young man and the families involved.

With that said, let this be a lesson to those with intentions of going on the river. It’s suicide to be on the water without proper safety gear, especially now with the high flows but even when things are more subdued.

That river has claimed many, many lives and the common thread is people going in without the proper safety gear.

At 50 degrees, hypothermia can set in within 1-2 hours.

Unconsciousness in about thirty minuets;


I took the high side.

No, you hit it right on the nailhead. Hypothermia will set in in one to two hours BUT, unconsciousness or exhaustion will happen in only thirty minuets. Pretty tough to swim while unconscious, people don’t realize how fast that happens.

That’s all good in relatively calm water but I’m afraid little of that applies in a swift water situation. You hit 50* water, immediately you can barely breath. Struggling in the fast water will zap every ounce of energy one has to absolute exhaustion, including the strongest, in just a few minutes. Throw in the Class 4 rapids and this is very quickly a disaster.