Family left distraught after man drowns in canal off Kings River

KINGS COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Gomez family has just been delivered devastating news.

Their loved one, 31-year-old Jose Gomez's body was pulled from the Tulare Lake Canal outside of Stratford.

His family left distraught.

"I love you, and please come back, because I need you, you are my everything," said one family member.

Investigators say Gomez attempted to surf a spillway early Saturday morning.

He tied a rope to a handrail, then around himself and jumped into the rushing water with a raft in hand. The current swept him away.

"The raft broke out of the bottom, he went down into the water and never resurfaced," Kings County deputy Kris Zuniga.

His cousin tried saving him, but the quick-moving water was too dangerous.

It proved a challenge for Kings and Tulare County sheriff's water rescue teams as they tried recovering the body.

"We are going to do the best that we can to find him from wherever it is that he went in until however far it is that we can go," Zuniga said.

The single dad left behind two daughters.

His family remembers him as a free-spirited man who loved trying new things.

"He loved life. If he wants to try something new, he is going to go after it," said his sister Krystal Guerrero. "There is no talking him out of that."

His mother says he had a big heart, "we all love him so much because he cared for all of us so much."

Now their family will never be the same.

The family is now warning others to be careful on waterways.

"It looks safe, but the current will surprise you when you are in the water," Guerrero said.

At the moment, it's unclear if drugs or alcohol were a factor in the drowning.

Gomez's family has set up a GoFundMe account for support.
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