Mya Calderon was an adventurous and loving 11 year old girl who just started her first year of middle school last week. When her family came up from Orange County to the Kern River for Labor Day Weekend looking for fun and relaxation, no one imagined the weekend would end in tragedy.
On Friday, Sept. 1, Mya and her grandfather were reportedly playing on the rocks on the Kern River near Sandy Flat Campground in Keyesville when Mya slipped and was swept away by the current. As she drifted out of sight, Mya’s grandfather entered the water to save her, but the raging water proved too much, as he too was pulled downstream. Sadly, neither one was wearing a life jacket at the time.
The Kern County Sheriff’s Office received the call at approximately 12:50 p.m., and when Search and Rescue crews arrived on scene, they found Mya’s grandfather clinging to a rock nearly 300 yards down river. Fortunately, crews managed to rescue the man from the raging water, but had no luck locating Mya. More than 30 Search and Rescue volunteers and members of Mya’s family searched the waters of the Kern River looking for her until the sun went down behind the mountains.
When the search resumed on Saturday morning, Sept. 2, everyone held on to a glimmer of hope that Mya might still be found alive, clinging to a rock or sitting on the shore of the river.
Sadly, just a few hours later, at approximately 9:45 a.m., a bystander flagged down Search and Rescue volunteers because they saw a suspicious object lodged under a rock, about 7 feet below the water’s surface. Upon further investigation, Search and Rescue volunteers found themselves recovering a body from the water about 500 yards away from where Mya was reported missing. Family members on scene confirmed that the body was that of the 11 year old girl.
“It’s a sad and unfortunate situation, but it’s good that the family will have some closure,” Sgt. Zack Bittle of Search and Rescue said with a heavy heart. Even though the warm weather is waning and fall is upon us, Sgt. Bittle and the KCSO want to encourage the public to use appropriate safety measures and extreme caution when around the Kern River, since it is still experiencing record flow. “It has been a tough season, and it’s not over yet.”