Four rescued from Yakima River after rafting accident - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Four rescued from Yakima River; experts caution against linking rafts

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ELLENSBURG, Wash.-- The Kittitas Valley Swift Water Rescue Team rescued four out-of-towners Saturday from the Yakima River.  Experts say the accident could have been avoided.

The group of six was visiting from Port Orchard. Most of them had on life jackets, which likely helped keep a bad situation from getting worse.  But they also made a couple of big mistakes.

"The area they ran was not a good spot, we don't recommend that area, especially for large groups and smaller rafts," says Kittitas County Undersheriff Clayton Myers.

The group put in at the Ringer Boat Launch about three miles south of Ellensburg. They had tied six rafts together and when the water swept them into a log jam, they couldn't get out.

"It's not bad if you have a craft you can maneuver.  It's not a bad area but, you can't maneuver once you latch your rafts," says Myers.

The undersheriff says it's not just linking rafts together that's a problem.  But right now there's some pretty cold water out there and it's creating strong currents, which means if you get stuck it's especially hard to get out.

The snow pack melt is also causing high water levels.  The combination of all of those factors makes the Yakima River particularly dangerous right now.  Experts say, be careful.

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