A tragic beginning to the season of fun

It’s the oldest piece of advice from those who want everyone to have a good – and safe – time on the water.

It’s the oldest piece of advice from those who want everyone to have a good – and safe – time on the water.

WEAR A LIFEJACKET.

Sadly, sometimes that advice goes unheeded and tragedy results. A kayaker and rafter went missing on the Green River last weekend. As of late this week, their bodies had yet to be found.

The Green and the Cedar are running high and cold. Such conditions make for quite a thrill ride. Unfortunately, there’s no way to shut off the power if something bad happens – an overturned kayak or a punctured raft.

The unusually high water conditions are the result of the large snowpack in the Cascades that was in a rush to melt under the sweltering summer-like heat.

Those knowledgeable with our rivers knew this was a prescription for disaster. One of those is Judy Fillips of Renton, the chair of the state River Safety Council.

She lives along the Cedar, which had risen by about a foot in just a short time last weekend. She has become skilled at rescuing those who are unskilled in river safety.

She watched Sunday as a group of young men roared down the Cedar in a raft, beer in hand. By that time, the Cedar, and the Green, had been closed because of the dangerous conditions. Go figure.

Fillips has a simple request: Wear a lifejacket. And don’t mix alcohol with a good time on the water.

Wearing a life jacket seems like a no-brainer. I understand, too, that for some it’s a clumsy piece of equipment that takes some of the fun out of the day. But you might wish you had one on when you’re bouncing along the rocks on the river bottom or are stuck under an overhanging bunch of brush.

(Just as an aside. If you’ve been looking over the railing at the downtown Renton Library into the Cedar, you’ve probably noticed some big fish moving up the river. I was excited to watch another salmon run. That’s not the case. They are suckers, according to a state fish biologist. Somehow, suckers don’t fit the iconic category like salmon. Oh well. We’ll just have to wait for the sockeye.)

Speaking of safety

I can’t help but notice that folks seem to have forgotten that those trains are running through downtown again with the 737 fuselages. They’re stopping on the tracks. That’s not a good idea. You could get sent flying – or worse.

Dean A. Radford can be reached at 425-255-3484, Ext. 5050, or at dean.radford@rentonreporter.com

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