Sheriff reopens stretch of river once dubbed 'most dangerous'
ADVISORY: Officials recommend staying out of the river
SPOKANE, Wash. - The stretch of the Spokane River from Harvard Road Bridge to the Barker Road Bridge has been reopened, with exception. A quarter mile stretch of the river between the bridges will remain closed until at least Monday, according to Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.
That entire stretch of river was closed on June 2 at the request Knezovich who called it 'the most dangerous part of the Spokane River' at the time because of debris and high waters from melting snow.
The river between Harvard and Barker roads was so dangerous because of fast-moving water and debris accumulating at the Barker Bridge construction site. Anyone caught rafting the closed stretch of the river would have been fined or arrested.
In a letter to the mayors of Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake, Knezovich said the flow rate of the river has been reduced sufficiently to reopen that part of the river.
On May 31, one woman was rescued by Spokane Valley firefighters after becoming wedged in the debris while floating in her raft.
Rescue crews were able to cut a hole into the bridge, which is undergoing construction, so a rescuer could be lowered down to the rafter. The firefighter was able to get a harness around the woman and they were both pulled to safety by rescue crews.
Hypothermia can become an issue for anyone in water colder than 70 degrees, so swimmers and tubers need to be aware that they can become disoriented and make irrational decisions while in cold water.
Also, for people who unintentionally fall into the cold water, a phenomenon known as the Involuntary Gasp Reflex can cause you to inhale water into your lungs and drown.
Obviously, wearing a personal flotation device (life jacket) can keep you above the surface long enough for rescue.
Water current presents a very real danger for anyone spending time on the Spokane River, Little Spokane River or Latah Creek. People in the water can be pulled below the surface and trapped against underwater debris or rock. Again, PFD's keep you topside.