Crews pull rivergoer from water; James River regulations

By Evrod Cassimy - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A busy afternoon for fire and EMS crews, who successfully rescued a man from the James River about 4:30 Friday.

Officials say the middle aged man was clinging to a pillar in the water... And he had been there for at least a half hour.

Scenes like this could become more common as the warmer weather brings people down to the river. We're told the man rescued from the river Friday was not wearing a life jacket.

Crews want to make sure you have on a life jacket as water levels are higher than normal. They're hoping people pay attention to the posted signs before jumping in.

As the spring season starts many people look to cool off and take a quick dip in the James River. Current water levels, however, have fire and rescue crews placing regulations on water activities.

"If you're coming out to the river for the first time and you want to wade in the water make sure you have that life preserver on," said Lt. Shawn Jones, Richmond Fire Department.

The signs are clearly posted. When the river water level is above 5 feet a life jacket is required. On the flip side however, when the water level is above 9 feet, the river is closed to anyone without a permit.

Water levels Friday were at 8.91 feet so a life jacket is required. Some people we spoke with still didn't know the rules and requirements were in place.

"I don't really know anything about it. To be honest I just go out when it looks safe to go out," Cecil Rybak said.

"I don't know anything about the requirements. I don't think they make it really known or it might be different in different areas," said Amy Groat.

Fire and water rescue crews had their hands full last season rescuing people who ventured out into dangerous waters. They hope that people will take the necessary precautions this time around.

"The bottom is so unpredictable you know? In one area you could be in an area where you could walk into the water. Next time that you walk out a little bit further you could be up to your neck in water," said Jones.

If you do decide to follow the rules and go into the water with a life jacket, you're encouraged to go with a partner in case of an emergency.

And these water levels can change every day which means that the rules to go into the river can change as well. It's important to obey these signs so you can enjoy your time in the river safely.

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