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Search continues for missing hiker after water release sweeps teen away

Search and rescue teams are still looking for 18-year-old Jared Gardner.

Gardner is the hiker who got swept away by a water release on Saturday in the San Joaquin River.

The question remains: how much water was released during the time the teen was hiking?

Officials with the South-Central California Area Office of The Bureau of Reclamation said the water release eventually flows into Millerton Lake.

They were able to calculate the inflow of water they received around the time the hikers were at the Gorge area of the river.

Deputy Area Manager Duane Stroup said their was a spike in water inflows from roughly 1,800 cubic feet per second to nearly 7,000 CFS.

“Another way to put that would be that that's one suburban swimming pool per second. So the volume that's contained in a swimming pool going past you every second,” said Stroup.

Stroup said the water inflow increase into Millerton Lake began at 2:00 p.m.

“It went from just under 2,000 CFS to right around 6,900 CFS in a four hour period,” said Stroup.

Stroup said although it happened over a period of several hours, it is still a lot of water. 

“A flow change of a 1,000 CFS in that narrow canyon could sweep somebody’s feet from up under them and endanger their life,” said Stroup.

That’s what authorities said happened to Gardner on Saturday when he went hiking with family and friends. In total, seven of them went hiking in a group.

Authorities said the water release from Kerckhoff Reservoir swept the teen away.

“That would be controlled by upstream operations of Southern Cal Edison at Mammoth Pool or PG&E at Kerckhoff reservoir,” said Stroup.

PG&E does post signs all along the trail that reads “danger water levels can change suddenly. Dangerous current can cause drowning.”

“It’s a very dangerous situation. You want to be very careful down there,” said Stroup

The PG&E website notes they have one of the largest hydro-electric systems in the country, and it’s used to provide clean energy to its consumers.

Monday PG&E Spokesperson Denny Boyles released a statement that reads: 

“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.

While an investigation into the incident is ongoing, we want to remind the public to always take precautions around waterways.”


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