Body of Japanese hiker found submerged in river at Kings Canyon National Park

In this Friday, June 16, 2017, photo, Jake Gustafson crosses Bear Creek along the Pacific Crest Trai
Jake Gustafson crosses Bear Creek along the Pacific Crest Trail near Kings Canyon National Park on June 16, 2017. Rangers are warning hikers to think twice about crossing swift water after more than a dozen people drowned in Sierra rivers.
(Wesley Tils / Associated Press)

The body of a Japanese woman who had been hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was recovered this week from the swift Kings River, officials said.

A group of hikers on the famed trail discovered Rika Morita’s body Sunday, submerged in the south fork of the river in the Kings Canyon National Park, according to park officials. Park personnel retrieved the 32-year-old’s body from the frigid river Monday.

Morita, who was last seen July 8 in the Rae Lakes area, was reported missing Saturday, park officials said.

As California’s historic snowpack continues to melt, park officials said, rivers are more dangerous, with swift and cold flows.


Multiple drownings that were reported this year along the San Joaquin, Tulare and Kern rivers have been attributed to the swift and chilly currents.

“Wilderness travelers are encouraged to have flexible plans and scout for the safest locations and times to cross, which may not be the same as in previous years, or at regular trail crossing locations,” park officials said in a statement.

Rapidly melting snow along the Kings River in the Central Valley also triggered flooding and displaced residents in 90 homes in June.


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