Spokane man looking for donations for life jacket loaner program

SPOKANE, Wash. - 20913346

Each year our area lakes and rivers claim the lives of at least a dozen people, many who drown because they simply weren't wearing a life jacket.

"I grew up floating this river," Sadie Wilson said.

Wilson floated down the Spokane River with three kids Tuesday night and besides the tube, there's always something else she brings along.

"Life jackets ... the Spokane River is really unpredictable," she said.

On Tuesday night, Wilson forgot one life jacket and had to leave to grab it.

"Otherwise, we weren't going in," she explained.

But that won't be a problem much longer, thanks to Carl VanEtten.

"We want to enjoy the river but we don't want to get to the point where it becomes a tragedy," VanEtten said.

Just this past weekend a woman, who wasn't wearing a life jacket, was pulled from the Spokane River and at last check is in critical condition. This story and the many others each year is the reason VanEtten is starting a life jacket loaner program.

He plans to have four stations on the Spokane River at Stateline, Harvard Road, Barker Road and Mirabeau Park. People can pick up a life jacket at one of those stations, use it for the day and then return it when they're done.

"Even if it helps one person or makes someone feel a little comfortable going down the river hitting those rapids, that would be great," VanEtten said.

The life jackets will be free to use. People can return the jackets to any of the stations.

VanEtten is in need of donations to get the program up and running. If you would like to help, you can drop off a new or used life jacket to any of the S.C.O.P.E. stations.