Epic Float Causes Epic Problems in Kittitas County - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Epic Float Causes Epic Problems in Kittitas County

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KITTITAS COUNTY, WA - Kittitas County Sheriff Deputies say an epic float last week caused epic problems on the Yakima River. 

More than 500 campers went to the Teanaway and 29 Pines campground for the 2014 EPIC Float on the Yakima River on Friday. Saturday morning when the float started at the mouth of the Teanaway River into the Yakima River, cars were parked for a mile in each direction at the launch site near the bridge.

Deputies and Washington State Patrol troopers were in the area to warn drivers of the hundreds of rafters in the roadway unloading their rafts and other inflatable floats. The Sheriff's Office also had two rescue jet boats, with a Swiftwater Rescue Deputy operating each vessel and a DNR Officer on board one boat to help.

During the day, deputies say there were 13 rescues where sheriff's vessels rescued people off of log jams or from the wrong side of the river, where they were stranded because their floats deflated or got caught in strainers.

Deputies say although there were over 500 people floating on the river and drinking a lot of alcohol, the only injuries were minor scrapes and cuts from branches or mosquito bites.

Deputies say there were reports of trespassing at the takeout point and littering along the highway and river. Six people were arrested for DUIs, two people were arrested for assault, one person was arrested for disorderly conduct. Law enforcement also responded to numerous other complaints on the floaters. 

Deputies say since people just show up, no event permit was applied for or approved by Kittitas County. The facebook organizers were contacted prior to the event to try to control the camping, parking, littering and water related issues. They have been advised to go through the permit process to insure health and safety issues are addressed.

"The extra presence and quick response by law enforcement prevented several tragedies," said Sheriff Gene Dana.

"While this event was happening, there were over 600 people in smaller groups floating in the Yakima Canyon as well. This many people drinking and floating at the same time is a recipe for problems."

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