FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Public safety officials from around the Central Valley teamed up on Thursday, as they looked to double down on river dangers.

The Sunday deaths of four-year-old Santiago Barajas and his sister, eight-year-old Victora Barajas, were used as a grim and agonizing example of just how dangerous they are.

“We cannot have another incident like we had on Sunday, May 21st. That was a very preventable tragedy where a four and an eight-year-old were drowned, died, in the Kings River because they were led there by their parents,” said Fresno County Sheriff John Zanoni.

“It involved two young children, who are coincidentally about the age of my two boys. And I cannot imagine what those parents are going through right now,” said Fresno Chief of Police Paco Balderrama.

Thursday, officials once again asked residents to be responsible and to stay off the eroding banks, out of closed parks, and not go near the water.

“It’s so critical that we choose life over recreation and stay out of the waterways. Not only do you put yourself, your kids, family members at risk, you also put rescue teams, whether it’s the fire department, the law enforcement rescue teams, at a significant risk,” said Dustin Hale, unit chief for Cal Fire’s Fresno Kings Unit.

Just beyond where the announcement came, massive trees had been toppled by the overflowing Kings River.

The flows are so powerful, they can snap trees like toothpicks.

Pine Flat is pumping almost 13,000 cubic feet per second into the Kings, as the San Joaquin River runs around 10,000 cubic feet per second thanks to releases from Friant Dam.

“The rivers are closed. At this point, we have patrols out enforcing the closures of the rivers. If you are contacted recreating in or about the river, you can be cited,” said Sheriff Zanoni.

Fresno County Sheriff John Zanoni, even compared Sunday’s tragedy to a preventable traffic crash, as he didn’t rule out charges against the parents.

“In similar, it could be like if someone took two small children and ran across a busy freeway and they were hit by a car, that is negligence on the part of the parent to do that. So, there is always a possibility that there’s criminal charges,” he said.

Patrols will be out in full force to make sure residents stay off rivers this Memorial Day Weekend.

As for the river closures go, Zanoni said both the Kings River and San Joaquin River will likely be closed for months before they reassess in late July or early August.