Kings River near Pine Flat Dam

Monday morning, CAL FIRE/Fresno County Fire personnel on a boat saw the 4 year old boy beneath the water caught against a tree.

A firefighter was deployed into the water and recovered the body. He was found 1.75 miles downstream from where he initially went in the water on Sunday. In comparison, his sister was found on Sunday, one-fifth of a mile down from where they went in.

Approximately 40 Search and Rescue personnel, including members of Cal Fire - Fresno County and City of Fresno firefighters assisted with the search on Monday.  Crews utilized boats on the river, a remote controlled vehicle in the water, drones and the sheriff's helicopter in the air.

Shortly before 2:00 pm on Sunday, an 8 year old girl and her 4 year old brother fell into the Kings River and were swept downstream. This occurred after the children, their mother and her adult friend entered the water off the shoreline about a mile down from Pine Flat Dam. The group was trying make their way out to a specific rock to climb on when the current carried the kids away.  Neither were wearing life jackets.

Once an emergency call was placed, deputies and Cal Fire firefighters responded by putting rescue boats on the river. Less than an hour into the search, with the help of the Sheriff's EAGLE One helicopter, they found the 8 year girl in the river. She was deceased.  The boy was unable to be located on Sunday.

Both the Kings and San Joaquin Rivers are closed to recreational users and have been since March 14th, 2023. Sheriff John Zanoni made this decision in response to heavy winter storms and melting snow that have created high water levels and hazardous conditions. This order is in place through the utilization of Fresno County Ordinance 13.32.080, which serves in the best interest of public safety. Anyone accessing the rivers are considered to be in violation of Penal Code 409.5(c), unauthorized entry to an area closed for emergency purposes. This infraction comes with a minimum fine of $225.00. Numerous closure signs are placed along the waterways informing the public of the importance of staying out of the water.  The conditions of our waterways will only become more dangerous heading into summer as snow melts and dams release even more water into the rivers. The water remains cold, in the low 50s, the current is swift and trees serve as dangerous obstacles.

There is no timetable of when rivers will be reopened for recreational use. Water levels are being monitored on a daily basis and a decision to reopen the rivers will be made once these extraordinary dangerous conditions improve.


Contact Information

Tony Botti
Public Information Officer
(559) 600-8137