H-ARROYO GRANDE

Jul 19, 2011 2:11 AM by Bill Halter

Volunteers talk about search for Derrick Rush

Clayton and CJ Cullen from Paso Robles joined the search for Derrick Rush last Wednesday. The father and son spent the next four days tirelessly searching for the 28-year old Arroyo Grande man. Rush disappeared while vacationing 50-miles north-east of Bakersfield on Kern River. He was swept up in the current and taken downstream after he got into a calm patch of water that didn't appear to have any movement. Rush's family was joined by around a hundred volunteers in the search for him. Last Saturday Rush's dead body was found in the river by volunteers, including the Cullen's.

The Cullen's joined the search in response to a plea for help from the Rush family who were frustrated by the lack of effort to the search by Tulare County Officials.

"The County search officials, there wasn't a hole lot of presence period" says CJ Cullen.

CJ was friends with Derrick. "He was a great guy, if it was anyone of us Derrick would have been out there" says CJ.

The untrained volunteers looked for Rush each day from 6:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. "The physical part of it was really tough. I can only imagine what the family was going through because they had been there since the Friday before" says CJ.

"As they were coming off of that trail head they were just absolutely beat. They were stumbling and they were totally, totally exhausted" says Clayton describing many of the volunteers who walked nearly 15 miles a day over hilly terrain in hot temperatures.

It was CJ who used his ham radio to contact his dad and tell him he saw a body floating down the river on Saturday afternoon. Clayton was able to secure the body further down the river.

"I made the 9-1-1 call and got the authorities started and then via the radios we were using I was able to call the family and the rest of the searchers" says Clayton.

"It was relief that we had accomplished the mission we had set out to do, it was just the fact that the mission we had set out to do was not a good mission" says CJ.

Rush worked as a Correctional Officer at the California Men's Colony and had a six and ten year old daughter.

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