A California rescue team has pulled two exchange students’ bodies from a dangerous river gorge where their car landed after plunging through the guardrail.
On July 26, the students from Thailand were driving a rented car on the curvy Highway 180, roughly 75 miles East of Fresno, when their car went through the protective guardrail. They plummeted nearly 500 feet, before landing in the Kings River.
After weeks of planning and waiting for the river water to calm, a helicopter lowered members of the recovery team into the gorge. They used a hand wench to drag the car close to the bank and free the two bodies, authorities said.
The remains have been sent to the coroner’s office for a positive identification, Fresno County Sheriff spokesman Tony Botti said. In a statement directed to the students’ families, he added this has been a difficult time for them.
Botti stated, “Hopefully you may now move forward in the healing process.”
The slow pace to launch the recovery had prompted emotional pleas to authorities from relatives traveling in from Asia.
But only now has the river — with thundering rapids fed by massive amounts of snowmelt high in the Sierra Nevada — calmed enough to make conditions safe for the recovery team, officials said.
Investigators linked the car with the students who had planned to visit Kings Canyon National Park, famous for its sweeping mountain vistas and giant sequoia trees.