Archive for Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Riverkeeper warns Kaw visitors to use caution

August 21, 2007


Kansas University Sophomore crew team members Julie Schoeneck, New Berlin, Wis., left, and Kerri Emel, Hutchinson, return a boat to storage Monday after cleaning the equipment in Burcham Park near the Kansas River.

Kansas University Sophomore crew team members Julie Schoeneck, New Berlin, Wis., left, and Kerri Emel, Hutchinson, return a boat to storage Monday after cleaning the equipment in Burcham Park near the Kansas River.

Recent tragedies on the Kansas River show the need for more education about water safety, riverkeeper Laura Calwell said Monday.

"You do need to respect the power of water," she said.

On Aug. 5, Joshua Bryant, 25, and Richard Heyroth, 30, both of Topeka, died in a canoeing accident near Topeka, while 9-year-old Michael Zapletal has been missing since Wednesday after last being seen on a sandbar near Maple Hill.

The usually shallow and slow-moving Kansas River flows 170 miles through northeast Kansas.

But recently, the Kaw has been deeper and swifter from rains and releases from upstream dams, Calwell said.

"There is definitely the need for more public education and river safety," she said.

As the river gains more popularity among canoeists, Calwell said Friends of the Kaw and the state will have to step up with more education.

She said Friends of the Kaw will make additions to its Web site on river safety.

She also said she hoped to apply for grant funds and get signage at public access points to the river that show the river trail and the various obstacles in the water.

"We have to address that. These incidents point that out," she said.

Bryant and Heyroth and two other men were in a canoe and on a raft that capsized over a low-water weir.

Authorities said the survivors, who were pulled out of the strong current by fishermen, said they were unaware of the concrete structure, a small dam.

On Wednesday, Michael disappeared while friends said they were wading in fast-moving water.


cowboy 10 years, 10 months ago

My family had their homestead on the banks of the Kaw near Grantville . The first thing we were taught by Grandma was to never , ever , go near that river.

The reasons are pretty obvious. I find it irresponsible for folks to tout the Kaw as a recreational river. It is a very hazardous and wiley river that can take you in a heartbeat.

Kevin Millikan 10 years, 10 months ago

My grandfather was the Fire Chief of Lawrence, and I remember as a small boy him telling me to never go near that river; he pulled too many bodies from that river and he hated it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 10 months ago

Oh, come on, cowboy. There are many more dangerous rivers all across the country, in areas that have thriving tourist trades attracted in part by their rivers and the recreation opportunities they afford. The fact is, any water is potentially dangerous, even your bathtub (where hundreds of people die every year.)

WilburM 10 years, 10 months ago

Jeesh. Use your eyes, use your brains. Much of the year the Kaw above the Bowersock Dam is pretty much a 3-mile lake. Obviously, when the current is swift and the river deep, one has to be cautious. But the Kaw can be great for recreation, great for gaining some peace and quiet. Take adequate caution, don't be stupid, and it's a wonderful resource -- which could be better (less polluted, etc.).

OldEnuf2BYurDad 10 years, 10 months ago

Inexperience can kill. I nearly died at the Bowersock dam - in my mid-twenties. It was one of those "maybe this is a bad idea" moments after the point of no return.

Bubbles 10 years, 10 months ago

Do any of you get outside the state limits?

The Kaw is one of the nastiest rivers around. One is an idiot to actually get into a body of water that has visibility of a quarter inch.

Know why there are bodies pulled from the Kaw? Because it is an unsafe place to play for Idiots.

You guys ignorance is too funny. Go for a swim in the Kaw!

Grump 10 years, 10 months ago

Before the big reservoirs, people used to water ski above the Bowersock dam. I've swum in the Kaw hundreds of times. Visibility is no better or worse than in Perry or Clinton or your average farm pond.

No, you don't jump in during high water or where the current looks especially swift, or swim under brush piles. Kids need life jackets. But this myth that the Kaw is so treacherous it must be avoided at all costs is absurd. The fact that your Grandma told you to avoid the Kaw irrelevant. My Grandma urged me to avoid all alcohol and devote my live to celibacy. I didn't listen to her, and am happier for it.

Tom McCune 10 years, 10 months ago

His Imperial Majesty Norton I, Emperor of these United States and Protector of Mexico.

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