Swift Water Rescue Teams give warning as temperatures soar

Coosa River (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Coosa River (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Updated: Jun. 26, 2018 at 5:32 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WETUMPKA, AL (WSFA) - As the temperatures soar, so do the number of people spending time on the water and Swift Water Rescue Teams have a message those who enjoy the Coosa River.

"It offers a lot of activity, it's a very fun place.  I frequent it myself," Wetumpka Swift Water Rescue Team's Lt. Stacey Grier said.

Grier enjoys the Coosa River, but he knows how dangerous it can be. "This time of year, our calls really start to go up. We can have a two to three a weekend," Grier explained. "We've had about 12 on a high summer. Unfortunately, we average about one fatality a year on the river, due to drowning."

Grier estimates a slow weekend nearly 800 kayakers are on the Coosa, more than 1,000 on a busy weekend.

Kayla Ledbetter's family was here last week. At Mocassin Gap, her kids and their dad hit a patch of rough water. They had to leave the kayak on the rocks, but everyone was ok until dad went back in.

"He's a pretty decent swimmer. He thought he could go in and get the kayak and just come out," described Ledbetter. "It was his own personal kayak, he went back to try to retrieve it, and he went in kind of close to where it was, and he thought he could just you know go right over there to it. When he passed by his kayak, I knew then that he would not be able to make it."

"Even though the water is shallow, it could be two foot, it can whip you off your feet," Lt. Grier warned. That's why Lt. Grier and his team are in the water every week, training for rescues and educating kayakers.

"First and foremost would be life jackets. We see a lot of people coming down, and usually, they anticipate the rapids and put it back on." Grier continued, "Anticipate the unexpected. Be prepared for the rapids, be prepared for the current. If you can swim in the lake or the pool, it doesn't mean you can swim in the river. My good swimmers, unfortunately, are sometimes the ones that fall victim to the river."

[MORE: You can check Alabama Power's current outflow from its dams anytime at this link.]

Grier also warns that the looks of the water can be deceiving. Even when it looks calm, it can still be flowing rapidly. Alabama power releases a minimum of 2,000 cubic feet per second from Jordan Dam every day, and more than 10,000 cubic feet per second in the spring and summer.

Copyright 2018 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.