UPDATE: Driver in SUV found submerged in Kern River identified

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UPDATE (5/25): The driver has been identified as Jessica Natalia Ortega-Duenas of Bakersfield, according to the coroner’s office.

UPDATE (5/18): The vehicle is believed to have actually entered the river on Sunday night.

The California Highway Patrol said sometime between 10 p.m. and midnight on Sunday, a 35-year-old woman was driving the Chevy eastbound on Round Mountain Road when, as the road curved to the left, the woman allowed the vehicle to travel off the roadway, where it struck a fence and oil-pumping unit. 

The department said the Chevy continued in a northeasterly direction and became airborne as it traveled off the hillside. The vehicle fell about 40 to 50 feet, at which time the front of the Chevy impacted the dry dirt riverbed below. 

The Chevy rolled over multiple times and came to rest, submerged upside down in the Kern River, according to the CHP. 

Due to the darkness and the fact the Chevy was not visible from the roadway, the department said the Chevy was not located until Monday, when oil company personnel responded to the oil pumping unit for maintenance and observed the vehicle in the water. 

Alcohol appears to be a factor in this collision, according to the CHP.


UPDATE (5/17): CHP Sgt. Cecil McKinty said the body of a woman was located inside what he believed was a Chevy Tahoe that was found on its roof in the water. He said a tow truck will remove the Tahoe from the water and it will be searched to see if anyone else is inside.

It’s unknown if anyone was thrown from the vehicle during the crash and if the current possibly carried them down the river. A search and rescue team walked along the area where the crash occurred and didn’t find anyone, McKinty said.

Oilfield personnel said a pumping unit went offline around midnight, McKinty said, and it appears the vehicle hit the pumping unit before entering the river.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — At least one person is dead after an SUV entered the Kern River in northeast Bakersfield.

The California Highway Patrol is reporting that at around 2 p.m., a black Chevy Tahoe entered the water off Round Mountain Road east of China Grade Loop and became fully submerged. Crews are working on recovering the vehicle.

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