River warning

Recent drownings are reminders that rivers – inviting as they are on a hot summer day – need to be treated with respect.

The apparent death of a 67-year-old fisherman near Hope offers yet another reminder of how treacherous river conditions currently are.

The search continued Monday for the man, who police say went into the water three kilometres north of Yale after slipping off a rock Saturday afternoon.

River deaths around Chilliwack have been mercifully rare this year; the weekend incident marks the first.

But the ferocity of this year’s freshet has taken its toll elsewhere. Most recently three people drown in a tubing accident near Grand Forks.

Those deaths have sparked reminders that rivers – inviting as they are on a hot summer day – need to be treated with respect.

“The RCMP want to remind fishermen and anyone who is near the river to always wear a flotation device,” said RCMP spokesperson Cst. Tracy Wolbeck.  “The rivers in the Upper Fraser Valley are running extremely fast and cold and a flotation device could save a life in an emergency situation.

The warning is particularly appropriate with the coming long weekend, which is typically a busy time on Chilliwack rivers. With temperatures expected to climb to the high 20s by Friday, the water will offer an inviting reprieve.

However, as experienced fishers know, even the slightest misstep can bring tragedy. Strong currents and slippery footing bring danger even in shallow water.

The high water levels, meanwhile, brought on by rainfall and rapid snow melt, can hide fallen logs and debris that can easily snare and tear rafts and tubes.

The river is a great place to spend a lazy summer afternoon. But the power of this resource cannot be overstated.

The cost of failing to treat rivers with the respect they demand is high.

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