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Water rescue crews warn of river hazards

Capt. Craig DeGarlais says anytime you're on the river you, need to avoid any item in the water because you can end up trapped underneath it.

Posted: May 23, 2019 6:47 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Ahead of Memorial Day Weekend, water rescue crews want to warn you about some new hazards in our rivers this year.

Capt. Craig DeGarlais with Eugene Springfield Fire said there's a large hazard on the McKenzie River behind Riverbend Hospital, where the river divides into three channels. 

DeGarlais said the high waters from heavy rain and snow over the winter deposited multiple hazards to that area.

"We have multiple trees in this channel, with stumps attached to the tree still," DeGarlais said. "We have two trees entangled. We have a mountain of wood and items. This would definitely be a dangerous area to float through." 

He said anytime you're on the river, you need to avoid all items in the water because you can end up trapped underneath. If you can't avoid it, do everything you can to get on top of it.

DeGarlais also said to always wear a life vest, and even though it's beginning to feel like summer, the water is still very cold. He also said to always have a friend with you while out on the river and to know your put-in and take-out point. 

He said their crews respond to water rescues year-round, but summer is the busiest time of the year for them. Their initial response to a water rescue is two boats, each staffed with at least three rescue swimmers. He said they recently added a brand new boat to their fleet. 

For more information on water hazards, click here.

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