Safety comes first on the Tennessee River during Riverbend
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Less than 24-hours after a man drowned while kayaking in Lake Junior near the Chickamauga Dam, law enforcement officials have announced that they will be out in full force making sure boaters, kayakers and paddle boarders have life vest during the Riverbend concert series.
Riverbend officially kicks off this Friday and will last for eight straight days. during that time frame, the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga is expected to be filled with boaters, kayakers, and paddle board enthusiasts who will be looking to enjoy the sights and sounds, but that on-the-water activity comes with safety concerns.
“We want everybody to have a good time but at the same time, we want them to be safe on the water and make sure everybody gets home together so they can go out the next day and have fun,” said Hamilton County Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Purvis.
Purvis is a part of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol. He and fellow deputies along with Tennessee Wildlife Officers will out in full force on the water during Riverbend. They will be conducting safety checks to make sure everyone on the water is equipped with a life jacket.
“If you got five people and five life jackets but one of the people is a child, you need a child life jacket,” Purvis said.
By law, children 12-years of age or younger are required to wear that flotation device at all time while they are on the water.
Kayaker and paddle boarders will also be subjected to safety checks.
“If you’re on a Kayak or a paddle board, you don’t have to wear the life preserver unless you’re 12 and under, but you have to have it on the Kayak or paddle board with you,” Purvis said.
At L2 Outside in downtown Chattanooga near the river, owner Dirk Unkle told News 12 that safety always comes first when they rent out paddle boards and kayaks. Customers who rent their equipment are required to wear flotation devices anytime they are on the river.
L2 Outside is equipped with a large variety of flotation devices for both adults and children.
According to state law enforcement officers, there were 14 boat related fatalities across the state last year. Officials told News 12 that more than half of those fatalities could have been prevented if a flotation device was used.