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Mother raises funds to bring daughter's body back to Nebraska after tragic accident

Karissa Jones had just turned 21. (Courtesy Misty Mendocino)

FRESNO, Calif. (KPTM) - An Omaha woman is now in Central California on a heartbreaking trip.

“I need to be there,” Misty Mendicino said. “I need to see her, so I can have closure.”

Mendicino is there to claim the body of her daughter, Karissa Jones.

Jones moved to the town of Tulare in April to live with her boyfriend.

Mendicino says her daughter was looking forward to a fresh start; she had just turned 21.

“As a mother, you have to let your child go,” Mendicino said.

It was one thing to let go but another to lose her in a tragic accident.

Jones traveled to Sequoia National Park last Monday.

She liked it so much, she returned Saturday.

It was Earth Day, and park entrance was free. Jones, her boyfriend and his cousins went on a hike.

At one point, park rangers say she slipped on a rock and fell into the Kaweah River.

“I got a call from her boyfriend, who he said she fell into the river and he couldn't save her. Couldn't get her out, but that there's hope,” Mendicino said. “I thought for sure he's gonna call back and say she's going to be OK. When I got a call back, he said she passed. They were unable to resuscitate her.”

Mendicino scrambled to raise the money to fly to California.

“She always said that if something happened to her, to promise someone would always be by her side,” she said.

Now, the challenge is raising the money to return Jones' body. The estimate: nearly $6,800. That only covers sending her body - not a service, plot or headstone.

“I never imagined I'd lose her like this so far away from home,” Mendicino said. “I just want to get her back to Nebraska.”

A GoFundMe account has been set up to raise money.

Jones attended Omaha Central High School. She worked at a number of fast-food restaurants and, most recently, at a call center in Omaha.

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