Search for missing 18-year-old hiker continues in the San Joaquin River Gorge

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The Fresno County Sherriff's Office search and rescue team is looking for an 18-year-old man who was swept away in the San Joaquin River Saturday. (KFSN)

The flow of the San Joaquin River remains reduced as searchers continue looking for 18-year-old Jared Gardner, but his uncle John Foster says hope is fading.

"Today is a hard day. I think as the time passes the reality of our situation kind of sets in."

But Lt. Kathy Curtice of the Fresno County Sheriffs Department says search teams have not given up.

"We have teams on the ground we have teams in the air with both a drone and the helicopter, and we are just trying to catch any evidence of where he might be."

Jared Gardner and six friends were hiking the canyon and stopped to rest just below a footbridge near the Kerckhoff power plant when a surge of water released upstream from the Kerckhoff Dam hit.

Jianna Vang says she has swept away with Jared and another girl, "It was so fast and it came out of nowhere and the waves were just pushing us between the rocks."

Jianna was pushed several hundred feet down the river channel but managed to get out. She saw Jared push another girl to safety then watched him disappear.

"The last thing he did was save her, and then the last thing I saw was him going down the river in front of us."

Lt. Curtice says the search conditions are challenging.

"We are talking about a naturally wild River. It's a fast-moving current there are lots of obstacles there could be an obstacle that could've trapped him or the current could've kept him right in the middle and carried him a long way. That's the hindrance of this search we could be covering a very big area."

There are warning signs about the danger of rising water, but no alarms or sirens are in place. Jared's uncle John Foster says he is shocked by how many people seem completely unaware of the potential danger here.

"There were a lot of people up here recreating a lot of people down by the shore with their feet in the water I was surprised, knowing what had happened just the day before."
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