Officials identified the body found in the Kern River Tuesday as Jared Jamaal Andrews Jr. of Hawthorne, Calif., Kern County coroner announced Wednesday.
Andrews’ body was spotted in the Kern River with a tool that Search and Rescue used for the first time: a drone.
Twenty-seven-year-old Jared Andrews Jr. was visiting Keyesville from Hawthorne with his girlfriend and her family. They were camping at Sandy Flat on Saturday morning when he slipped on a rock and plunged backwards into the River’s powerful current. His family says he wasn’t a strong swimmer.
Crews spent three days looking for Andrews–by boat, ground, and helicopter. Sgt. Steve Williams with Search and Rescue says this is their first large-scale search this year. His team had been training with a drone for six months; Andrews’ case was the first time they decided to use it.
“When the search becomes longer term and we need to search from the air, the unmanned system is a great way to go. that’ll allow us to see deeper down in the water than you could certainly with the naked eye,” Sergeant Williams said,
Finally, a rafter spotted a man’s body floating in the River–two and a half miles downstream from where Andrews fell in. Search and Rescue deployed the drone then sent a crew for recovery.
Two hundred ninety-five people have died in the River since 1968, when the county started keeping track. Fifteen people drowned in 2017, and this discovery makes two deaths in 2018.
Search and Rescue urges people to wear life vests anytime they go in the river, whether turbulent or seemingly calm. If you’ll be rafting, they suggest going with a professional guide. And if you are caught by the current, your best bet is to float on your back.