HAPPY CAMP, Calif. — Siskiyou County sheriff's deputies have found a body believed to be a fire camp worker who disappeared Monday while swimming in the Klamath River.
Richard Pearson Jr., 42, of Bakersfield, Calif., disappeared along with his friend and co-worker, George James Barbis, 35, of Okanogan, Wash., as they swam in the river. Crews recovered Barbis' body Monday night.
A California Highway Patrol helicopter flew the river Wednesday to search for Pearson, and the crew found a body about a half-mile downstream from where Pearson was last seen, said Susan Gravenkamp, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's department.
Sheriff's deputies were helicoptered to the site to recover the body. Gravenkamp said an autopsy will have to be performed to confirm identity and cause of death because of the condition of the body.
Frank Gonzalez, who worked with the two drowned men, called the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department Monday at about 2:45 p.m. to report that two of his friends had disappeared while the three swam together. They all worked for Teen Challenge Port-A-Pit, a company that provides meals for firefighters at temporary camps.
Gonzalez told authorities that one of the men wasn't a strong swimmer, and the other had sore ribs from an injury. He said they got tired and were swept into the current and disappeared.
Gravenkamp said the mouth of Clear Creek has a popular swimming hole, but there's a strong undercurrent in the main stream of the river, just beyond the hole, where the water looks deceptively calm.
Sheriff's department divers who recovered Barbis' body reported that they have found bodies of two other drowning victims in the same hole in recent years, Gravenkamp said.