Missing Arroyo Grande man’s body found on Kern River

July 19, 2011

The battered body of Derrick Rush, 28, of Arroyo Grande washed up on the bank of a Kern River campsite Saturday, ending a weeklong search by friends and family of the correctional officer who drowned. [Bakersfield.com]

Rush had gone missing July 8 while floating on a tube with friends and family when he fell into the water and never re-emerged. He reportedly was not wearing a life jacket, or helmet, or cold-water gear in the 50-degree water.

His body was found about 1.5 miles downstream from the Whiteside Campground where he was last seen.

An untrained volunteer search party made up of Rush’s friends was on the river when his body washed up. Darren Davis, who worked with Rush at California Men’s Colony, said the group had broken up into teams and was scouring the banks of the river, talking to each other on donated Motorola radios.

“One of our teams saw Derrick’s body floating down the river,” Davis said.

The team alerted a volunteer rescuer who was able to locate the body as it washed up and alert authorities. Children at the campsite also reported the body.

“We covered his body with a flag, and one of our guys who was coordinating said a prayer,” said Davis. “The family was just bawling.”

Rush’s sister, Diana Ricker-Pritchard, said Rush was last seen clinging to a branch before he went missing. One of his friends was in the water at the time he fell in but was pulled to safety.

The family, frustrated by what it says was an initial lack of effort by the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department to find Rush, organized its own team of volunteers.

“Sheriffs didn’t even get out of their cars,” Davis said.

Matt Scharper, deputy chief with the law enforcement division of California’s search and rescue program, said Thursday that no matter how many resources were thrown into the search, the outcome would likely have been tragic.

Rush was the father of two daughters, ages 10 and 6.


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4 Comments

  1. mrcyberdoc says:

    I’m sure the search and rescue have seen dozens of drownings over the years in the Kern river. Consider the temperature of the water, the speed of the current, and the fact that rapids with large rocks are everywhere, After a short time, there would be no hope. Either the person would make it to safety and beach themselves or would be lost.

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  2. willie says:

    He is still relatively a young man.
    Only in scuba diving and life guard traing do they give orientation to the dangers of currents and under currents.
    When I was scuba diving, the coach in Catalina told us to swim against the current so it would be easier to return to the ship, if we went with the currents near roacks, it could hurtle us amd smash us aginst the rocks.
    When my cousin was discharged from the Marina Corp, he told me that one of his men in Viet Nam crossed the stream with hidden under current, it sweaped him away and there was nothing they could do for him.
    Interesting note, I read somewhere that a foot of running water can sweep a 2000 pound car away, and two feet of water can sweep a 4000 pound vehicle away.
    Make sure your family wear life preserver when going into unsupervised waters.

    (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
  3. Cindy says:

    “Matt Scharper, deputy chief with the law enforcement division of California’s search and rescue program, said Thursday that no matter how many resources were thrown into the search, the outcome would likely have been tragic.”

    Maybe yes, maybe no, I guess we’ll never know. My condolences to the Rush family and those who loved him.

    (3) 9 Total Votes - 6 up - 3 down
  4. deedub says:

    A very tragic incident that could have easily been prevented if some common sense was employed. You don’t enter a raging river with an inner tube as your only flotation device. Once you get separated from the tube, you are through. My heart goes out to the family and friends of Mr. Rush.

    (11) 15 Total Votes - 13 up - 2 down

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