Kern River death tally sign to be raised by 15

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) — A warning sign that tallies the number of people who have died in the southern Sierra Nevada’s Kern River will be raised by 15 this month to reflect last year’s fatalities.

The sign along Highway 178 at the mouth of the Kern River Canyon northeast of Bakersfield currently says 280 lives have been lost since 1968.

The Kern County Sheriff’s Office said Monday the 15 lives lost in 2017 tied the all-time record set in 1985.

The river is extremely popular but has long had a reputation for danger. Merle Haggard called it “a mean piece of water” in his song “Kern River.”

The sign will be updated May 25.