Berkeley High grad drowns in a river near Yosemite

Eli Kane was a counselor for Camp Tawonga, a 95-year-old camp serving Jewish children and families.

Eli Kane with his parents Scott and Nancy. Photo: Facebook
Eli Kane with his parents Scott and Nancy. Credit: Facebook

A Berkeley High grad and camp counselor drowned in a river near Yosemite National Park on Thursday, according to Camp Tawonga’s Facebook page.

Eli Kane, 20, was a counselor at Camp Tawonga and apparently died while going for a swim in a river away from the campsite on his day off, according to reports.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Eli was a bright light, beautiful spirit and an adored Tawongan,” read the post on the camp’s Facebook page Friday. “Our deepest sympathies and thoughts are with Eli’s family and we are grieving with them.”

Kane was swimming in Cherry Creek, which leads into Cherry Lake, according to a friend of the family.

The Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office received an emergency call at 12:52 p.m. July 15, Deputy Sheriff Niccoli Sandelin, told the J Weekly. “When officers arrived at the swimming hole, witnesses were giving CPR to Eli,” according to the J. “Lifesaving measures were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead.”

 Sandelin told J. in an email that deputies are still investigating what happened.

Kane was a 2019 Berkeley High grad, where he played on the soccer team that won the North Coast Sectional Championship in 2018. Another player from the team, and a close friend of Eli’s, Ross Schultz, died recently in a car accident in Lake Tahoe along with Dixie Lewis. They were also Berkeley High graduates. Kane was a student at the University of Michigan.

“He loved his friends, and he loved his teammates,” Becky Villagran, who taught history to Kane, told The Mercury News. “He was [a] real scholar, and a great athlete; he had a lot of balance.”

Kane is survived by his parents, Scott and Nancy Kane, and his brother, Jesse.

Camp Tawonga is a 95-year-old camp serving Jewish children and families in year-round programs, including the summer camp where Kane served as a counselor. The camp is located by the Tuolumne River in the Stanislaus National Forest.

This is the second tragedy that has struck the camp. In 2013, an oak tree fell and killed a camp counselor and injured four others.

The camp said it would honor Kane during its Shabbat services on Saturday.

Check back later for updates to this report.

Pamela Turntine is editor-in-chief of Berkeleyside. Email: pamela@berkeleyside.org.