KCSO Search and Rescue updates sign at mouth of Kern River Canyon to mark 307 deaths

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KERN RIVER (KGET) — The Kern County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit updated the sign at the mouth of the Kern River Canyon at Hwy. 178 this morning.

The unit updated the number of deaths in the Kern River to 307 since 1968. The department said the county had nine deaths last year at the river. In 2018, there were four deaths.

The goal of the sign change is to encourage visitors to the river this summer to act safely to avoid injury or death.

“The river is unpredictable and dangerous and it’s unpredictable what people are going to do,” said Sgt. Zack Bittle. “We want to avoid as many deaths as possible.”

Bittle said the department expects a normal amount of water in the river this summer, which could bring significant crowds to the river.

“We hope that everybody enjoys the river this summer and does so safely,” he said. “We hope we don’t have to come back out here and add more numbers next year.”

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