Police advise safety on Rock River this weekend, after boater rescued from water

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The Rock River is expected to be packed full of boaters this weekend, and law enforcement are reminding residents of safety practices after a boater was rescued from the river on Thursday.

Crews were able to tow it in after the owner suffered mechanical issues and dropped anchor beneath the Chestnut bridge.

Winnebago County Sheriff’s Senior Deputy Wes Kemp says there are steps boaters should take to stay safe.

“With the amount of people out there, it’s very important that everybody on the boat has a life vest that is Coast Guard approved,” he said. “Make sure it’s in good, working condition, and make sure they’re able to get to them quickly.”

Kemp advised paying attention to speed and avoiding overloading the engine.

He also said, be mindful of how much you’ve been drinking.

“We would always suggest that people be aware of alcohol consumption and how it can affect people differently. With the sun, the water, and the heat, it can affect people much more quickly,” he said.

Kevin Versino, the general manager of Rocktown Adventures, a paddlesports store at 313 N Madison St, says anybody who is thinking of canoeing or kayaking on the river on Independence Day should plan accordingly.

“The Rock River is a very popular recreational waterway. You get multiple users out there. You get crew people, you get water skiers, you get recreational boaters, you get kayakers,” Versino said. “The fact is, a lot of those user groups create turbulence, and sometimes can present a non-optimal safety situation. So, if you’re gonna go on the Rock River paddling this weekend, [I} strongly suggest that you’re off the water by about noon.”

Kemp added, “We just want everybody to have a fun, but safe, weekend out there.”

Kemp says children under the age of 13 are required to wear a life vest at all times on any boat less than 26 feet long.

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