Clear Creek, not far from where the July 18 accident occurred.
Shasta Lake’s John Lee Morales, 50, was charged with two counts of felony child endangerment today following the tragic death of his 11-year-old daughter in a rafting accident on July 18.
While Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko and District Attorney Jerry Benito held a press conference to announce the charges, Morales pleaded not guilty in Shasta County Court.
The rafting accident took place in a swift gorge on Clear Creek. A 12-year-old girl, a friend of Morales’ daughter, was also in the raft and was wearing a life jacket, Bosenko said; she survived the affair and was rescued.
John Morales and his daughter were not wearing life jackets and the total weight of the three rafters exceeded the two-person inflatable raft’s 400-pound capacity, Bosenko said in a press statement.
California law requires that any child under age 13 wear a flotation device while on the water.
The release also stated that Morales had been warned by bystanders not to run the section of river because of its danger and that the girls said they were afraid to try the section. Morales had been drinking prior to the accident and launched the kayak despite the warnings, Bosenko said.
Additional charges have been filed against Morales because he was on bail in another felony case when his alleged violations occurred. In that case, Morales had been charged with a felony DUI and had multiple convictions of DUIs within the last 10 years.
“This case is more than a tragic accident,” Bosenko said in his statement. “This situation could have been avoided. It was the result of negligence and child endangerment, and a death that occurred while drinking alcohol. My sympathy goes out to the surviving family and friends. My thanks goes out to the citizens who made intervention and helped at the scene. Thanks also goes to all of the rescue personnel and our staff who assisted and investigated this incident.”
Morales is currently in jail with his bail set at $500,000.
Jim Dyar is a news, arts and entertainment journalist for A News Cafe and the former arts and entertainment editor for the Record Searchlight’s D.A.T.E. section. Jim is also a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.