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First river death of year at Sequoia National Park prompts stern warning: 'They are swift, cold and dangerous'

First river death of year at Sequoia National Park prompts stern warning: 'They are swift, cold and dangerous'
A 36-year-old man died after he was swept down the Kaweah River in Sequoia National Park. (National Park Service)

A 36-year-old man died Sunday afternoon after he was swept down the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River in the foothills of Sequoia National Park, prompting authorities to issue a stern warning to park visitors about the dangers of the fast-moving water.

Park rangers were alerted midday after the man went into the river near the park entrance parking lot. Swift-water rescuers were called thereafter.

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The man, who was not identified but is from Los Angeles, was found dead not far from where he entered the river, officials said. It’s unclear if he fell in or went in voluntarily. The circumstances and cause of death are under investigation.

This was the first river death this year at Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, where in the summer, rivers fed by snowmelt move much faster than expected, said Mike Theune, a spokesman for the National Park Service.

“With rising area temperatures, rivers look very inviting,” U.S. Park Ranger Elizabeth Dietzen said in a statement. “Please stay away as they are swift, cold and dangerous.”

The higher discharge levels, combined with the slickness of the rocks at the water’s edge, pose dangers not only for the public but also for rescuers.

“We really want to encourage people not to go to the edges of rivers,” Theune said.

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