Jessica Lilly Published

Beckley Man Is First 2021 Drowning Victim In New River National Park And Preserve


A Beckley man was found dead on Monday afternoon in the New River National Park and Preserve.

Authorities think 25-year-old Rudolpho “Rudy” Cerda drowned sometime over the last few days. His death marks the first drowning in the park this year.

Cerda was last seen alive on Saturday afternoon. According to a news release, he and two other people were looking for a place to fish on the river and were separated. The two individuals discovered Cerda’s shirt and cell phone on the river bank. Park officials and search and rescue crews looked for Cerda into the evening and notified commercial rafting companies. The river was muddy and at above average water levels for this time of year.

The victim’s body was found close to the Cunard river access point about six miles down the river from where Cerda was last seen. Cerda was not wearing a life jacket.

The New River Gorge National Park Service is reminding people that the New River has swift currents, deep holes and a rocky bottom. They say life jackets should be worn in and around the river at all times.

More water safety tips can be found on the National Park Service website.