Woman is swept to her death in icy Sequoia National Park creek

Icy runoff from the Sierra snowmelt claimed another victim Saturday when a woman died after falling into into Silliman Creek in Sequoia National Park on Saturday.

National Park Service rangers say they received a report of a 26-year-old woman who had fallen into Silliman Creek along the Twin Lakes Trail and was swept downstream. Rangers said this is the third river fatality this year in Sequoia National Park. No other details about the woman were immediately available.

With record-setting high temperatures forecast for the parks, remaining snow in high elevation areas is rapidly melting. Rangers reminded visitors that rivers and water crossings are swift, cold, and dangerous.

“River crossings fluctuate with temperature and time of day,” said park ranger Leah Tobin. “Just because you we able to cross in the morning, does not mean the same crossing will be at the same level when you come back to it in the afternoon.”

Creeks and rivers flowing from the Sierra Nevada this spring have been particularly treacherous after a drought-busting winter of rain and snow.

Since April 14 the Tulare County Sheriff's Department has responded to eight fatal drownings and over 24 swift-water rescues.

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office has closed the Kings River to boating, canoeing, kayaking, swimming and floating because the river is at its highest level in years. The lower Kings River is also closed in Tulare and Kings counties.

At least six people have drowned in recent weeks.

On May 20, 18-year-old Neng Thao, a senior at Edison High, drowned in the San Joaquin River. He apparently got pulled under by the current as he waded from shore.

On April 22, a 21-year-old Tulare woman fell into the middle fork of the Kaweah River in Sequoia National Park and drown. About a week later, an 18-year-old Woodlake man fell into the middle fork and was swept away.

In addition, three other people have drowned in the Tule River.

Rivers in the High Sierra are running so fast and cold that experienced hikers are recommending that people not venture up there until later in the season, when more of the snow has melted and creeks recede.

Larry Valenzuela: 559-441-6084, @larryvalwork