Emergency crews warn about river safety after water rescue

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Frightening moments on the James river. Four people's tubing trip turned dangerous. One of them was even knocked out after hitting some rocks.

That rescue came as emergency workers warned people to be careful on the river. It's at six feet and life jackets are required.

Those four people are lucky to be alive. One of those rescued says he saw the warning signs but didn't think it was going to be that bad. He's looking after his fiance. She hit her head twice on the rocks and was knocked unconscious.

Authorities recommend enjoying the river from the banks this weekend.

We caught up with Andy Browder moments before he caught a ride to the hospital to be with his fiancee. You can see he's a little scratched up from their tubing nightmare.

"We saw the signs. It was our stupidity. We thought it would be that way all the way down," says Browder.

He says when he and three others got in the James at Poney Pasture, the water was at his shins. As they went through the dangerous Hollywood rapids, they got separated. Browder and his fiancee became trapped there.

"I was fine but my fiancee, I was with, she smacked her head on the rocks twice so I had to stay with her," says Browder.

A third tuber ended up on a rock above the Lee bridge and the fourth made it to shore on his own. Richmond's river rescue team launched boats and brought the other three to safety. Captain John Harkness says they're extremely lucky.

"There's a tremendous amount of water coming down the river right now. It doesn't look dangerous, it doesn't look like a flooded river but the current is extremely powerful," said Capt. Harkness.

He says you've got to know what you're up against.

"The river is going to be above five feet all weekend long life jackets are required know what section of the river you're going to and know the associated hazards," said Capt. Harkness.

Authorities say all four tubers were cited for not wearing life jackets.

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