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Calif. Rescuers Recover Body From River

June 7, 2003

JACKSON, Calif. (AP) _ Rescue workers struggled Saturday to recover the bodies of a woman and three small children whose car had plunged into a frigid river raging with spring runoff.

It took more than an hour to pull the body of first child from the vehicle, which had been trapped on rocks and submerged in the 57-degree water of the Mokelumne River since Friday night.

Authorities reconstructed what happened based on statements from the car’s driver and his brother, who said they escaped the car after it went into the river about 40 miles southeast of Sacramento, said Amador County Sheriff’s dispatcher Margaret Blair.

The driver, Joshua Julin, 20, of nearby Mokelumne Hill, was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter after witnesses described seeing the car speeding on the narrow road along the river, the California Highway Patrol said.

Julin’s father, Bret Julin, identified the woman in the car as his son’s girlfriend, Katie Corbett, and the children as Corbett’s daughter Kiara, 2, and Joshua Julin’s daughter, Mariah, 3, and son Andrew, 1.

``What a way to treat somebody, put them in jail when their kids are dead,″ Bret Julin said as he stood holding two roses on a bridge over the river at dawn Saturday.

He said his son Matthew, who had also been in the car, told him that after the car plummeted into the chilly water, he had opened a door to get out, and that the two brothers were quickly swept down the river.

``There was no way to get back to them,″ he said.

The white sedan was carried about 400 yards downstream and filled with water at least up to its windows before lodging on some rocks around 5 p.m., Blair said. The river was running deeper and faster than normal because of late snows in the Sierra Nevada, making it too dangerous to send in divers, she said.

Bret Julian said he had tried to wade into the water holding on to a rope attached to the shore to save his grandchildren, but that authorities ordered him back.

``They were beautiful kids. They were sharp, bright, full of life,″ he said. ``I am just mad as hell, mad at the world. I just feel so helpless, furious. That water was moving so fast, so cold.″

Saturday morning, Corbett’s two sisters walked to the bank of the river with flowers and waited as waters rushed over the car about 50 yards away.

Michelle Corbett, 25, said her sister and Joshua Julin were a perfect couple.

``They found their family,″ she said. ``They needed her and she needed them.″

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