BALLICO -- A 6-year-old girl who apparently drowned Sunday afternoon in the Merced River has been identified by the Merced County Coroner's Office as Kairi Sanchez of San Pablo in the Bay Area.
At the time Kairi went missing Sunday, officials had reported she was 7 years old, although her age was updated Monday.
Kairi had been visiting the McConnell State Recreation Area with her parents and family.
The last time Kairi was seen, she had been wading in the river. The Merced County sheriff's helicopter spotted her body, which was submerged about 30 yards from where she went missing, according to Ranger Denis Poole of the state's Department of Parks and Recreation.
Officials said the death appears to have been an accidental drowning.
Although the area where Kairi was wading is relatively shallow, Poole said the body was found in "one of the deeper holes" in the river.
"There were a lot of people in the water at the time," Poole said. "Somehow they lost track of her."
The girl's parents immediately notified rangers when she went missing about 3 p.m. Deputies were dispatched, and the department's helicopter, search and rescue personnel, and dive team arrived to assist in the search.
Three hours later, Kairi's body was found. An autopsy was conducted Monday, and the results will be available later this week.
Poole said life jackets should be worn by those who go near the water, particularly children.
The drowning was the third time in less than a month that sheriff's deputies responded to the Merced River because of a report of a missing person. In the two prior incidents, those who went missing were located hours later, alive and unhurt.
City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.