San Diego

San Diegan Drowns in Fresno's Kings River: Sheriff

Deputies warn anyone heading to the area to exercise caution: the water in the Kings River moves faster this year than in years past

A San Diego man drowned last week attempting to cross Kings River, Fresno Sheriff officials said Tuesday. 

Luca Chiarabini, 47, is being remembered by friends as an adventurer who loved to explore canyons and caves.

“He passed doing what he loved. On a rope, in the water. I guess, is there a better way to go?” friend Trevor Mottram said. 

Chiarabini died on a camping trip he took with two other adults northeast of Hume Lake. 

Chiarabini and two friends parked at Yucca Point and hiked down to a trailhead, where they crossed the river and camped overnight, deputies learned. 

After camping, the group went back to cross the river. 

Chiarabini chose to pass first as the others stayed back to the shore. 

To cross the river, Chiarabini wore a helmet, wetsuit and fins, but no life jacket, his friends told investigators. He tied himself to a rope and secured it to a nearby rock.

As he swam across the river, deputies said, the current overwhelmed him. The current carried Chiarabini into the rapids and took him downstream, away from his friends. 

One of the hikers activated his emergency beacon, equipped with inReach satellite technology, which called sheriff's deputies to respond. 

Sheriff's deputies, California Highway Patrol and Search and Rescue officials launched a search in the area.

Around 9:50 a.m., deputies operating the department's helicopter found Chiarabini submerged underwater. SAR officials conducted a rescue and recovery plan through white water rapids to recover Chiarabini's body. 

Deputies warn anyone heading to the area that the water in Kings River moves faster this year than in years past. 

Deputies ask those heading to the area to make good judgment calls, to avoid anything outside your experience level and to wear a life jacket.

Mottram remembers when they first met, he thought Chiarabini was light years ahead of anyone else when it comes to experience. 

“Safety usually should take precedent over everything. He did everything by the book and was as safe as they come,” Mottram said.

Mottram added that on adventures like the one Chiarabini was on, it's not common for people to wear a life jacket.  

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