- Associated Press - Monday, June 15, 2015

CARLOCK, Ill. (AP) - First responders are warning about the dangers of the swift and rising waters on the Mackinaw River that already have claimed the lives of two people.

Recent rains have swollen the river that runs through central Illinois north of Bloomington. The body of kayaker Abel P. Martinez, 24, was found June 5 after he was reported missing May 31. And railroad workers found the body of tuber Anthony Maile, 48, on Friday.

But the message doesn’t seem to be getting through to some people, Tazewell County Emergency Management Agency director Dawn Cook told The (Bloomington) Pantagraph (https://bit.ly/1HKh7gu ).

The rapidly moving current can seem fun instead of dangerous to outdoor recreational enthusiasts, Cook said. Those who ignore the warning don’t realize there’s a deceptively strong undertow that they can’t see, she said.

Anyone who’s planning to go on the river while its “flood stage” is at the current reading of 13 feet on the gauge at the U.S. 150 bridge between Goodfield and Congerville should wear a life jacket, according to Cook and Capt. Jim Mayes of the Illinois Conservation Police.

A level between about 1.5 and 3 feet on the gauge is ideal, especially for people with little to no experience maneuvering in a swift current, said American Canoe Association-certified canoe instructor Jeff Fitch. After 3 feet, the river gets “pushy,” he said, and it becomes more difficult to maneuver off of the river as gravel bars are covered with water.

“If there is debris floating down and logs and whatever, don’t paddle,” said Mary Jo Adams, an avid kayaker whose husband is a paramedic with the Carlock Fire Department, which was involved in the recent search for Martinez.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is asking experienced boaters to “use good judgment and set an example for novice boaters by staying off the water when conditions become potentially hazardous,” said agency spokesman Chris Young.


Information from: The Pantagraph, https://www.pantagraph.com

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