MOGADORE (WJER) (June 17, 2022) – A member of the team that spent days searching the Tuscarawas River for a missing boater’s body is urging anyone planning to go out on the water to wear a life jacket.
ODNR Law Enforcement Supervisor Lieutenant Scott Stauffer says if you fall in and a current catches you, it will help keep you afloat until you get to shore or back to your boat.
“It’s the currents and the strainers and the logs and rocks. What happens is when you’re out there, your body gets beat up a little bit. You start getting disoriented, and you think you can touch in the water when you can’t and the current keeps pulling you downriver. So always make sure you have a life jacket on because that way if you do fall or something happens and you’re struggling, at least you’ll stay afloat.”
The man the team was looking for wasn’t wearing a life jacket when his canoe capsized near Port Washington and he disappeared into the river. Neither was the kayaker who drowned a few miles upstream the weekend before. There’s no indication that alcohol was a factor in either incident, although Stauffer says drinking while operating any type of watercraft is a bad idea.
“Basically, it amplifies the effects because you have the wind and the water and the current. It makes your intoxication a little bit more than when you’re on land, so there’s a lot more stressors when you’re out there boating.”
He also encourages people to practice on still water such as a lake or pond before venturing out onto any rivers, which can be treacherous even for experienced paddlers.
You can find more information about boating safety and hazards to watch out for on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website.