Kayaking danger: Spillways and large debris come with high water

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Do not attempt rapids with higher difficulty levels than you have training for.

UTAH (ABC4 News) – Unified Police Department released the name of the kayaker who drowned in a Jordan River spillway Thursday evening; he’s identified as 57-year-old Warren B. Parkin.

A spillway is essentially a rip current created by water falling from a height. You can find them in man-made and natural rivers, and they can be challenging for even experienced kayakers. 

Mark Johnson is the swift water Sargent with the Utah County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team and a white-water kayaker himself. 

Johnson said, “It’s very important when we get on the river we have the proper shoes, attire, proper gear and that we’re familiar with it, a life jacket, and a whistle. If you’re going to be in a kayak, know where you’re going to paddle. If the rapid has any kind of difficulty, you need to scout the rapid.”

Kayakers should scout for things like boulders, trees, and bridges or dams which can be especially deadly in this high water season. Johnson said with the high water comes large debris like tree branches and even tires.

Do not attempt rapids with higher difficulty levels than you have training for. If you have no training, there are many calm bodies of water in Utah for beginning kayakers. 

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