Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Killer Kern: Should The County Do More To Prevent River Drownings?

Aug 1, 2017

Country legend Merle Haggard's famous song about the Kern River isn't just a musical gem, it's also a warning:

It's not deep nor wide,
But it's a mean piece of water my friend.
I may cross on the highway,
But I'll never swim Kern River again.

Now after a winter season of near record rain and snowfall in the Southern Sierra, the Kern River is rushing, and reminding people why it earned the nickname the "Killer Kern." So far this summer 11 people have lost their lives in the river, and several more are missing and presumed dead. Many others have been rescued from the rushing waters. That's led some people to ask whether Kern County is doing enough to warn the public of the risk. Lois Henry of the Bakersfield Californian joined us on Valley Edition to talk about what a local health clinic and other groups are doing to warn the public.