Personal items found as crews search for missing 18-year-old hiker continues in the San Joaquin River Gorge

AUBERRY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Search and rescue crews say they're finding clues that could point to a general area where the body of a missing hiker may be located.

The recovery mission for 18-year-old Jared Gardner continued today on the San Joaquin river gorge.

The teen has been missing since Saturday when a sudden surge of water swept him away.

On Tuesday, family members told Action News that they have realized the outcome here is grim.

Today more evidence was found including a camera bag. It's believed the bag belonged to Jared and his group.

A small drone is helping the Fresno County search and rescue team get snapshots from the air of areas deputies searching on the ground can't get to or see.

"(There are) lots of areas where the current disappears into fields of boulders and reappears on the other side, so there are areas that are impossible to check, but everything that we can access and check has been searched several times," said Sgt. Scott Weishaar with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office

Deputies are covering a three-mile area of the river. It's downstream from a footbridge near the Kerchkoff power plant that Jared and his friends were hanging out under when a sudden surge of water from a dam release swept him away.

"We have hope, and we have peace," said Jared's uncle, John Foster. "As hard as it is not to be able to hold him, as a family, we're doing okay."

The past two days search crews have recovered items that likely belong to Jared and the group he was with, that included his brother and five church friends.

"We found some items just searching the banks, ground searchers have found some shoes, the helicopter has found some shoes, and the boat has located a bag," said Sgt. Weishaar.

The group had stopped to rest and swim when the unexpected water suddenly rushed toward them. Jared and at least one other person were overcome by the fast, rising water.

Records show that after the water was released Saturday, river flows peaked at 6,000 cubic feet per second. In the past 30 days, the river last surged at a similar level on April 28th.

On Tuesday, air squadron volunteers also used airplanes to fly over the
area and search.

Jared's dad came to the search area Monday to get a firsthand look at the effort deputies are putting in to bring his son's body home.

Jared's uncle, John Foster described the emotions, "He was somber, kinda the reality of the situation and seeing how difficult the terrain is. I can't stress enough how great (the search and rescue crews) have been and the level they have gone through to and the things they are trying to do to recover him."
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