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​3 dead, 24 rescued from California river during Memorial Day weekend

File: Sierra South Paddle Sports has begun offering guided rafting trips as of Mid-March due to better water flow conditions this year compared to last.
File: Sierra South Paddle Sports has begun offering guided rafting trips as of Mid-March due to better water flow conditions this year compared to last.
Courtesy of Tom Moore/Sierra South

A record winter of snowmelt into California's rivers has made for treacherous recreation conditions, leading to several people falling victim over Memorial Day weekend to the fast-flowing water.

Three people died this past weekend along the Kern River, while 24 others had to be rescued. At surrounding rivers, five more people had to be saved.

Officials say they fear the conditions could become more dangerous as chilly snow melt continues to fuel the river water.

“Every now and then you get a big water year,” Luther Stephens, owner of Whitewater Voyages in Kernville, told KPCC.

Stephens said his company wasn’t involved with the weekend’s rescues or deaths, but has installed warning signs along the river and held seminars for rafter safety.

“With the mass of humanity that’s around this environment, [tragedies] are just inevitably something that are going to occur,” he said.

All three of the deaths this past weekend had been rafting incidents. Officials say 10 people have now died in Kern and Tulare county rivers this year.

This story has been updated.