City of Spokane warns of strong river flows after weekend rescue

City of Spokane warns of strong river...

SPOKANE, Wash. - A group floating the Spokane River on Saturday got caught up in the rushing river, and had to be rescued.

Now, the City of Spokane is reminding people that river flows continue to be dangerous, and people should make sure they are doing what they can to stay safe while enjoying the river.

"Right now the river is extremely deceiving," said Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer.

A group of friends learned that first hand on Saturday.

"We just wanted to go floating down the river like any other day," said Kody Turner, who was part of the group.

But soon after they started rafting down the river in the Peaceful Valley neighborhood, their floats got wrapped around a tree. Kody's raft became detached from the group, and he kept going downstream.

"I had a little adrenaline rush going down the river with no life jacket," he said, "really the water is just pretty powerful too. It just sucked me under a few times and that was not fun."

He made it out of the river on his own. His friends were rescued.

The Spokane Fire Department says using a float isn't enough. Everyone should wear a personal flotation device (PFD), too.

"That's honestly where we've seen a lot of people get in trouble," Chief Schaeffer said. "Using unapproved PFDs as a rescue type of a resource, and it simply isn't reliable. It doesn't work."

Chief Brian Schaeffer says with rescue operations like Saturday's, "It takes almost forty people to be able to safely and efficiently rescue a person that's in trouble on the river."

The fire department is urging people to stay cautious on the water.

"Swim with a buddy, scout before you go out, and take extreme caution," he said.

And after Saturday's ordeal, Kody says he learned a lesson.

"Definitely wear your life vests," Turner said.

Chief Schaeffer is also warning about the potential for hypothermia with the cold water, explaining young children and older people should especially take precautions.