Man dies attempting to save three children from drowning in Kings River

Manjeet Singh, 29, has died after trying to save three children struggling in Kings River in Fresno County.
(Annie Butchert)

A 29-year-old man has died after jumping into California’s Kings River to save three children he saw struggling in the water.

The man, identified as Manjeet Singh, was visiting Reedley Beach on Wednesday evening near his home in Fresno County when he saw three children struggling in the river. The children, two 8-year-old girls and a 10-year-old boy, had waded into the river, but a strong current was pulling them downstream.

Singh was at the river with his brother-in-law and other friends. He heard the children’s cries and quickly went to help. He removed his turban and attempted to use it as a rope to pull the children in but was quickly pulled under himself.

“He went in to try and help them and, unfortunately, went underwater fairly quickly and never came back up,” said Reedley Police Commander Marc Ediger.

Singh was found unresponsive 40 minutes later, downriver. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.


Several other bystanders worked together to rescue the three children. Two of them were brought to shore unharmed, but one of the girls was underwater for nearly 15 minutes. She was taken to Valley Children’s Hospital in Fresno and as of Friday afternoon remained in critical condition and on life support.

According to Ediger, Singh moved to California from India two years ago. He had plans to start a trucking business and had been taking truck-driving lessons Wednesday before visiting the river.

Singh is not the first person to drown in the Kings River this summer. In June, another man from Fresno, Arthur Caballero, died after saving a young girl who was struggling to swim.

“The water is generally fairly calm down here in Reedley,” Ediger said, but the sandbars at the river drop off quickly, and the depth changes dramatically.

“People will go in with clothing on, and it weighs them down even more. For people who are not strong swimmers, the river can be dangerous.”