‘It could save your life,’ Columbia Basin Dive Rescue on summer safety

KENNEWICK, Wash. — The Tri-Cities may be well past spring, our waterways are still experiencing lingering effects of a wet spring and Columbia Basin Dive Rescue wants people to be prepared.

“Spring was so mild that the snow didn’t melt that quickly; getting a lot of mountain runoff still so, Yakima is staying high which makes it more dangerous. The water is still cold mountain water,” Scott Rupellius, the Columbia Basin Dive Rescue Public Information Officer said.

Rupellius said this means a popular tubing area is riskier.

“For the end of June, the Yakima running high is very unusual usually it’s crested down, come way down,” he said.

This season, we’ve already seen one fatality on the Yakima River, when someone drowned near the Wanawish Dam.

Scott recommends tubing below the dam, and being extra vigilant of obstacles in the water.

“You have a lot of fun on the Yakima just be careful as far as obstacles along the shores, because there’s still fence lines in the water that are usually away from the water,” he said.

While it may not be the most fashionable item, he also encourages people to wear a life jacket.

“It may not be ‘cool’ to wear a life jacket — but it could save your life,” he said.

While Columbia Basin Dive Rescue volunteers are usually the helpers in any situation, they’re asking for the publics’ help to secure a new boat.

“So right now we run that high tech equipment off a very low tech 1970’s boat,” Scott laughed.

The team needs a new boat for more space to operate sonar equipment, and assist law enforcement or loved ones in case of an emergency.

“It’ll allow us to get up and down the rivers safely and in high wind times and currents where our little boat right now is not really suited for that,” Scott said.

For now, they’ll continue to assist the public when needed. Scott has this advice for families as they take a trip to the water.

“A lot of times, everyone else thinks everyone else is watching the kids and something happens so just make sure someone is actually saying okay it’s my responsibility right now.”

You can donate to CBDR via PayPal or by purchasing their 50-year anniversary coin.

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