Boy in critical condition after being trapped underwater in Kings River

An 8-year-old boy was in critical condition after being trapped underwater in the Kings River for several minutes Sunday, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said.

The boy was on a rafting trip with family when the accident occurred around 4:30 p.m. in the area of Lac Jac and Lincoln avenues near Reedley, sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti said.

Lt. Richard Wilhoite said the boy’s family pulled him from the water and onto an island. Botti said the father and his girlfriend performed CPR on the boy until a sheriff’s helicopter arrived; the tactical flight officer took over CPR as the boy was flown to a spot on the riverbank where an ambulance met them for a trip to Adventist Medical Center in Reedley.

The boy was then transferred to Valley Children’s Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition Monday.

Botti said family members told deputies that a group of about 10 had lashed rafts together with ropes and set out from near the Goodfellow Avenue bridge; all the children in the group wore life jackets. A mile or so downstream, the group drifted into some branches and all of the rafts popped, flipping everyone into the water.

The boy’s father and girlfriend saw that the boy was wrapped in the ropes, holding him underwater. The woman couldn’t get upstream to reach the rope, so she swam to shore where she grabbed the rope and was able to free the boy. He floated until his father was able to reach him and bring him to the island.

A group of kayakers called 911 and the helicopter arrived about 10 minutes later.

Botti said the sheriff’s office reminds people doing activities in and around water to take precautions including: wear a life jacket; stay out of the water if you’re not an experienced swimmer; do not mix alcohol and swimming; use rafts and tubes made of durable material; respect the power of rivers and stay aware of debris.