The deadly Kern River has many deaths each year

Stacie Norris, Reporter

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The death toll for the Kern River in 2017 tied an all-time record high of 15 set in 1985, according to 23 ABC News.  The numbers for 2018 will be released just before the Memorial Day holiday.

The Kern River, sometimes referred to as Killer Kern by locals, is a river that runs about 165 feet long and has claimed the lives of several people during the last few years.

This river is also a popular destination for whitewater rafting and kayaking.

With summer being a few short weeks away, some people will not be able to resist the urge to jump into the Kern River for a little relief from the heat.  Especially on those days where the temperature in Bakersfield can easily climb past the 100-degree mark.

Warning signs posted near and around the river seem to go ignored by many people each year and this is evident in the number of lives the river claims each year.

A company called Mountain & River Adventures has released an educational video for the public in hopes to save lives.  The theme this year is “Stay alive and hire a guide.”

John Stallone, the owner and president of Mountain & River Adventures said, “if ever there was a time to go rafting with professionals, make sure you have the right equipment.”

The short video, about two minutes in length aims to show the audience how to safely recreate on the river. This is done by showing the difference between proper and inadequate equipment for water rafting.  For example, according to the video, any professional rafting company should provide you with a type 5 professional floatation device or PFD, also know as a life jacket.  A type 3 PFD can be bought at any sporting good store and is made for boating on lakes or on still water.  The type 5 PFD is better for helping the individual stay afloat.

The video stresses that no one should get into the Kern River without a PDF, doing so could lead to injury or even death. The waters may seem calm initially but there could be major rapids just downstream.

A demonstration was performed on the video to show how a whitewater raft stood up against a raft made for a swimming pool.  Each raft held one person and as expected; the whitewater raft proved to be better suited for the fast-moving Kern River.  The swimming pool raft flipped over within the first twenty seconds, tossing the occupant into the river.

The late country singer Merle Haggard, who was born in Oildale recorded a song in 1985 called “Kern River.” The song is about his girlfriend drowning in the Kern River and how he will never swim in the Kern River again.

 

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