Update: Rescue workers stress safety along with fun

By Yvette Yeon - bio | email
Posted by Alli Atayee - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's a beautiful day to be by the James and the busiest during the Memorial Weekend. The water level is just over five feet, high enough to mandate a life jacket and also the best time for people to catch the down current on a raft.

"We definitely practice safe, play safe, it's the best way to go down river, you don't want to get into sticky situations," said Rafter Pablo Stone.

Last year, the Richmond Fire Department responded to 78 calls and pulled 42 people from the river. They recovered 2 bodies in the James.

This year, there have been 35 rescue calls already and the recovery of one body.

"They get that comfortable feeling going on, look at the river they see that it may be calm, but the under current may be stronger than what it appears on the surface," said Lt. Shawn Jones with the Richmond Fire Dept.

Monday morning a group of excited tubers enjoyed the river at Pony Pasture; most of whom didn't wear a life jacket.

Some of them made their own judgment call and said they didn't need it.

"I'm aware, I grew up from around here I know the rules but I figured I would be safe," said one tuber.

"I've got 2 tubes, I think that'll be good, one on each hand and just pray to god it's a safe trip down the river," said another tuber.

Park officials say they've been giving out a lot warnings to families this weekend. No arrest have been made so far, and no official citations yet.

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