Two siblings pronounced dead after being swept away by a river in California

The family were playing in a picnic area on an afternoon when both children ended up in fast-moving water and were swept away

Amelia Neath
Thursday 09 May 2024 13:38 BST
2 children dead after being swept by river

Two young Californian siblings have died after being swept away in a fast-moving creek. They had been spending Tuesday afternoon in a picnic area in the San Bernadino National Forest.

The children’s mother had taken her four-year-old girl and two-year-old boy to spend the afternoon at the Thurman Flats Picnic Area, according to a news release on Tuesday from the San Bernadino County Sheriff’s Department’s Yucaipa station.

The children were playing near the rapidly moving waters of river at around 3pm, when the girl apparently went into the water as the mother attended to her toddler son.

The mother then began searching for her daughter but could not find her; when she returned, her son had disappeared and is assumed to have gone into the rapid waters as well,

After “frantically searching” for her two children, the mother, who has not been named by authorities, started to hike up to the picnic area and contacted another family to help search for her children. They were unsuccessful in finding them.

"Unfortunately, she was unable to call 911, so there was a delay in activating the system, and at the point we had responded and showed up, both the kids were unaccounted for,” San Bernardino County Fire Department Battalion Chief Michael McClintock told ABC7.

San Bernardino County Fire Department officials search for the two children
San Bernardino County Fire Department officials search for the two children (AP)

At 4pm, around an hour after the young girl was swept away, deputies from the Yucaipa Police Department and the San Bernadino County Sheriff’s Department rescue team began searching. They were assisted by the sheriff’s air rescue team, and by Mentone Station County Fire personnel and the US Forest Service rescue crew.

At around 4.39pm, the girl was found. Just after 5pm, the boy was also located.

Both were taken to local hospitals, but while extensive life-saving measures were carried out, both were pronounced dead.

“It’s tough,” Mr McClintock said. “It’s a tragic situation, and many of us are parents, and it’s really hard on our firefighters, especially because these are our people.”

The fire chief warned that drowning is a leading cause of death in children aged one to four years old. He said there are around 4,000 deaths a year, around 11 a day.

"The biggest thing we can do is at pools at home to have natural barriers, make sure they’re supervised, and when going to lakes and rivers, really make sure we’re watching our kids,” Mr McClintock said.

"Don’t underestimate the water," he added. "It can sweep you off your feet pretty quick."

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Yucaipa Station asks that anyone with information related to the investigation call them at (909) 918-2305 or anonymously at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or go to

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