Officials Stress Water Safety After String of Drownings

By Mark Carlson, Reporter

(MARK CARLSON/KCRG-THE GAZETTE)

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By Aaron Hepker

IOWA CITY, Iowa - State officials at various departments are stressing public safety on the water after a string of recent drownings. On Wednesday, two bodies were recovered from eastern Iowa rivers after separate drowning incidents.

"Always swim with a friend and wear a life jacket," said Dave Wilson, Johnson County Emergency Management Coordinator.

Rivers are particularly dangerous after the recent flooding, said Joe Wilkinson of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

"The bottom of a river is always changing, you don't know what's going to be down there," said Wilkinson. "I would always recommend swimming in lakes or pools."

Officials say they understand the urge boat, kayak or canoe in rivers. Given current river levels those activities are not viewed as unsafe, but they stress the importance of wearing life jackets.

"I just don't swim in rivers," said Dale Nelson of Iowa City. 20 years ago Nelson lost his best friend in the Iowa River. "It's not worth the risk."

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