Search for missing teen may extend to Millerton Lake

Thursday, May 17, 2018
Search for missing 18-year-old hiker continues
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.

AUBERRY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Searchers in a rescue boat prowled the shore of the rugged San Joaquin River Gorge on Wednesday. It's the fifth day of the search for missing 18-year-old Jared Gardner.

He and two girls were swept into the river on Saturday. The two girls escaped the torrent of water, but Gardner was swept downstream, after pushing one of the girls to safety.

The water is much lower now, and Fresno County Sheriff's Department spokesman Tony Botti says the search has turned into a recovery operation.

Crews are focused on the lower reaches of the gorge, near where the river flows into Millerton Lake. Botti says it's likely Gardner was pushed into the reservoir. If that's the case, it is expected to take several days for his body to come to the surface. Until that happens, the Sheriff's department says the search of the river will continue.

The surge of water that swept Gardner away came from Kerckhoff Dam. An automated system releases water from the dam to the two PG&E power plants below. During these releases, the water fills the narrow canyon, which is part of a Bureau of Land Management park and recreation area.

PG&E has posted signs along the trails to the river, but the survivors of Saturday's incident said they had no other warning the water was coming. The utility company confirms there are no warning sirens along the river to alert those swimming, fishing or hiking along the waterway.