Location: Tule River, Sequoia National Forest "The Stairs" Day use area
Incident Date: 05/03/17
Incident Time: 1:10pm
Case Number: 17-5284
Victim: Jose Carlos Molina
Posted by: Dispatch
On 5/3/2017 at approximately 1330 hours, The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office received a call for a man who had been swept away in the extremely fast and dangerous currents of the Tule River above Springville. He was last seen by family members at a popular swimming area called “The Stairs.” Witnesses advised they had last seen Jose Carlos Molina, 22 of Bakersfield as he went upstream and out of sight above the main swimming hole. They later heard him yelling for help as he was swept away into rapids. They were unable to assist him. Sheriff’s Deputies arrived on scene within 20minutes.
At approximately 1700 hours, the Sheriff’s Office Swiftwater Dive Rescue Team with the assistance of California Highway Patrol helicopter H40, were able to locate Molina’s body approximately 1.5 miles downstream of where he was last seen. Due to the incredibly dangerous whitewater conditions, Deputies requested H40 assist with hoist operations to recover Molina’s body as it was too dangerous to place Sheriff swiftwater rescue personnel in the water. Sheriff’s Deputies were short-hauled to the far side of the river by H40 and successfully recovered Molina’s body. Molina is the 5th victim who has drowned in Tulare County’s rivers since April 14.
Above average annual snow melt has created very dangerous conditions including extremely cold water and swift, very deceiving currents.
Please do not approach the river’s edge or enter white water under any circumstances. The current conditions in many of our waterways are not survivable despite safety equipment, training or experience in white water. Inner tubes or other small flotation devices are inadequate and extremely dangerous as they are easily overturned in the swift currents and can be deflated by impacts with rocks and branches.
The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind the public of the dangers of fast moving rivers and white water. The Sheriff’s message is simple: Stay away from the river’s edge and don’t enter the water, especially if you do not know how to swim or have been consuming alcohol. Arrive safe and go home safe.