River rafting experts give tips on how to stay safe on the Kern River

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In just one week four people went missing in the Kern River – two cousins ages 19 and 16, an 11-year-old girl and a 38-year-old man.

Last week, a male’s body was recovered about a half mile down river from the Keyesville camp area. He was identified by the coroner’s office as 16-year-old Ivan Esquivel of San Bernardino.

There are still three people missing in the river.

Just yesterday a woman was rescued after being swept down the river from Keyesville.

The river is flowing at about 3,200 cubic feet per second, according to Eagle Rafting manager Sheldon Priebe.

“To get a good analogy of that, if I were to throw a rope across the river and we were to take the square out of the situation, and we would use a basketball, we would have 3,200 basketballs pass the rope per second and that is a lot,” Priebe said.

Priebe has been a river rafting guide for over 20 years.

“As people step into the river, they are not using proper gear,” Priebe said. “People think they want to use life vests. Life vest are what you use when you are [water] skiing. Also, using pool toys, pool toys are not an option on this river. They are made for your pool.”

Priebe said if you do find yourself unable to get out of the river, stay in the middle, lay on your back with your feet up, like if you were in a reclining chair. He adds it is important to keep your feet up so they do not get caught in brush and tree roots under the water.

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