Missing hiker risked life to save another before being swept away

Jared Gardner, 18, was set to graduate from high school June 1

The search continues for 18-year-old Jared Gardner.

Authorities say Saturday a eater release swept him away while hiking with family and friends.

Gardner’s uncle John Foster says his nephew risked his own life to save another. 

“The water moves real fast, fast enough that they couldn’t get back to the bank and they were swept off the rocks. In the process of that Jared was actually able to get one of the girls to shore before he was carried down river. That is who he is,” says Foster.

Foster describes the teen, who was set to graduate from high school June 1, as selfless. 

“He had just gotten his dream job up at Hume Lake working at a Christian camp for youth doing audio visuals in the technical arts department,” says Foster.

Authorities day around 3:40 in the afternoon on Saturday they got the 911 that a group of seven was hiking the San Joaquin River Gorge Area when a water release from Kerckhoff Reservoir swept Gardner away.

PG&E operates the reservoir and released a statement Monday.

“The safety of our customers, employees, contractors and the communities we serve is PG&E’s top priority and our hearts go out to the family and friends affected,” says Denny Boyles, spokesperson. “While an investigation into the incident is ongoing, we want to remind the public to always take precautions around waterways.”

Search and rescue teams looked for the teen the past two days.

Monday they began searching a second time areas they already covered. 

“The area we are searching is a really rugged area, and there is a lot of boulders, rockfields, and moving water,” says Lt. Kathy Curtice, Fresno County Sheriff Office. 

As they continue to search by air, water and land, Foster holds onto the memories of his nephew.

Foster said, “He was the one that was full of energy in the family. He always had a big smile."

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