Rescue crews warn about hidden dangers when taking a trip to the river

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, VA (WWBT) - Chesterfield police are still working to identify the man who drowned in the Appomattox River.

Authorities say the man was swimming with his nephew when he went under. The little boy swam safely back to shore, but his uncle never resurfaced. His body was pulled from the river a few hours later.

This is the second drowning in our area in less than a week. Authorities are revealing some of the most common mistakes people make when they head to the river. The number one mistake: underestimating what you're getting into.

Authorities say there could be any number of hidden dangers, whether at the James or the Appomattox.

Three days after emergency crews recover a teenager's body from the James River in Charles City County, a similar tragedy plays out in Colonial Heights, this time a man was pulled from the Appomattox.

"Bodies of water such as this one can look pretty safe they can look pretty harmless," said Chesterfield Fire Lt. Matt Coffin as he looked at the section of the Appomattox where the man's body was recovered Monday.

Mistakes people make during trips to the river can mean the difference between life and death. Lt. Coffin says the most common one is underestimating a body of water. Everything from the strength of the current to what's on the river bottom.

"We'll never know what's been deposited in here there's been everything recovered from small railroad ties to fishing lures and hooks all the way up to vehicles," said Lt. Coffin.

Another mistake high on the list: not using a floatation device. Coffin says people also mix alcohol use and water recreation - a combination that can turn deadly.

Signs line the Appomattox River at Archer Park, warning people about the dangers on the river.

Lt. Coffin says with many days of summer still ahead, it's important to take heed of those warnings.

"This was a bad day and this day cost a family member their life and it's going to be a just a dramatic impact on those people at the scene and extended family have to suffer," said Lt. Coffin.

Authorities also say it's important to let family members know exactly where you're going to be what time you plan to return home.

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