Orange County hip-hop rapper Michael Ramirez’s friends treated him to a weekend at the Kern River for his 27th birthday.
But the celebration soon turned to tragedy when Ramirez disappeared into the notoriously dangerous river on Thursday, June 22, his friends said on Sunday.
Ramirez, of Buena Park, his girlfriend Erica Zambada and another couple worked up a sweat pitching tents at the Keyesville campground in Lake Isabella. At around 5 p.m., Ramirez decided to take a dip.
“It was 115 degrees,” Zambada, 25, said. “We were sitting on a rock. Michael jumped in to cool down. He’s a fish – he loves to swim. He said, ‘The water is calm.’ But then an undercurrent swept him away.”
Christ Caballero, Ramirez’s partner in the popular underground group Rebellion Warfare, reacted quickly, tying a rope around his wrist. While the two women clung to the rope, he plunged in and attempted to reach his buddy.
“I got within a foot of him, but pockets of current acted like a suction, pulling him under,” said Caballero, 28, who lives in Anaheim. “I saw his head bob up one more time, and then I didn’t see him again.”
A search-and-rescue unit with the Kern Valley Sheriff’s Department arrived on the scene within 10 minutes, Zambada said. Team members combed the area by land and air until sundown, and have continued the search throughout the weekend, she said.
Officials could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
Around 70 friends and family members – including Ramirez’s parents – drove to the area to help with the search. “Michael is very loved by so many people,” Zambada said.
The terrain along the river makes the search difficult. “It’s not like you can just drive along the river and look down at it,” Zambada said. “You have to climb down rocky…