There were some tense moments for parents of four kids who went missing floating down the Stanislaus River near Riverbank. That started a massive search effort by both sheriff and fire agencies in San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties.
The 4 kids first got into the Stanislaus River at Jacob Myers Park. Authorities say things could have ended a lot worse.
“They didn’t know where they were going, they had never been out there before, so we were just worried about them, trying to get them back,” said Brittany Taylor, the kids’ step mom. She said the 2 16-year-olds, a 15-year-old, and a 7-year-old had set off in 2 rafts down the river. “They were out there for about 3, 3 1/2 hours,” said Taylor.
Jesus Ramirez was one of the kids, and he says there’s a reason he thought they’d all be okay. “Oh our grandma I guess, she says it goes around in circles, so we went,” said Ramirez.
But grandma was wrong and soon Taylor called 911.
That’s when the San Joaquin and Stanislaus County Sheriff offices and several fire agencies began searching from river, land, and the air.
“It was nice to see everyone out there, the helicopter was going, paramedics were out, fire department,” said Taylor.
“They had the helicopter going around in constant circles,” said witness, Michael Orr. “Plus the park ranger was going around asking a bunch of individuals.”
But Ramirez didn’t realize that helicopter was looking for him. “My cousin noticed he was waving at us, so he just waved back,” said Ramirez.
Everything worked out in the end, and all of the kids were found safe. None of them were wearing life vests, something others floating on the river say wasn’t a good idea, especially considering the youngest girl was only 7-years-old.
“Honestly I don’t think a little girl that young should be on a floaty like that,” said Orr. “If the current would have been stronger and take her, she would have been under.”
According to park rangers, people believing the river circles back around is a common problem they see, and they say all too often those kids do not have life vests on.