An annual tradition has been observed at the mouth of the Kern River Canyon with the changing of the sign showing the number of people who’ve drowned since last Memorial Day weekend.Sheriff’s Sgt. Sean Bittle oversees Search and Rescue operations along the ‘Killer’ Kern, he says their warnings often fall on deaf ears because the river is very enticing on hot days and people enter the water without the equipment or skills to stay safe. The sign that has been updated every year since 1968 now shows 280 drowning deaths, up five since last year.

Suzanne Grant