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2 L.A. men latest drowning victims in Kern River

July 11, 2011 |  6:31 pm

Kern river Two Los Angeles men were apparently swept away and killed in the Kern River in separate incidents near Bakersfield over the weekend, in what authorities are terming “an extremely busy year.”

One of the men remains missing and the other’s body was recovered, Kern County authorities said.

Hector Salinas, 29, had been playing volleyball in the river Saturday afternoon. He went to retrieve a ball and was swept under, said Deputy Victor Keesey, spokesman for the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. Salinas was found many yards down the river and airlifted to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Deputies are still looking for Kristhian Fonseca, 25. Fonseca left his camp along the river to go fishing about 2 a.m. Sunday. He was carrying a fishing pole and tackle box, according to a Sheriff's Office statement.

Family members called authorities when Fonseca did not return the next morning. Family members found beer cans near his tackle box near the river. Search teams and helicopters have combed the river for Fonseca but to no avail as of late Monday.

Keesey said this summer has been “extremely busy” for search and rescue operations on the Kern River. “We’ve had a tremendous amount of snow, and the runoff’s good,” he said. “It’s been warmer than normal as of late.”

Several recent cases involve Los Angeles-area people. Deputies called off the search for David Medina, 44, from Montebello, who was swept into the river July 2 and is presumed dead. Three people from Compton -- ages 13, 18 and 30 -- had to be rescued July 3.

“There are certain areas of the river that don’t look overly treacherous,” Keesey said. People “get in too deep or they’re not experienced swimmers. If you’re not paying attention and not prepared for it, it can certainly come up and bite you.

“Common sense will keep you out of trouble more times than not.”


Central Valley rivers are flowing stronger, faster, more fatally

2 men missing in rafting mishap on Kern River

Body found from Kern River rafting accident

-- Sam Quinones

Photo: Fishing in the Kern River in 2008. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times