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.