The Importance Of Life Jackets On The Rogue River

, Written by Kyle Aevermann, Posted: Mon, June 10 2013 at 7:03 PM, Updated: Mon, June 10 2013 at 7:32 PM

The Rogue River: serene, majestic, and oh so powerful.

"Trying to swim in this kind of current without a life jacket on, there's not a whole lot you can do," said Erik Weiseth, general manager of Orange Torpedo Trips in Merlin.

Over this past weekend 51 year old Rodney Clayburn was swept away by the river after trying to swim across it behind Morrison's Lodge.

Josephine County Search and Rescue dive teams located his body Sunday afternoon. he was not wearing a life jacket.

"Things can happen but wearing a life jacket there's nothing else you can do that so drastically reduced the chance of something that will happen to you," said Weiseth.

Weiseth took NBC 5's Kyle Aevermann for a ride down the Rogue River Monday. and told him the water is more powerful than it looks.

"You've always got to remember the currents are stronger than you think they are going to be. And like we talked about up there with kind of the big boils and the separate currents those are a lot more powerful than they look. So getting across the river will be tougher than you think but when the currents fighting against you it's going to be a lot harder....it's not swimming in a pool."

So with his lifejacket on Aevermann decided to see just how powerful the water is by swimming across with a team watching out for him.

He made it three quarters of the way before being breifly sucked under by a small whirlpool. He said he felt like he had very little control and was using all of his strength to get back.

It took him only 4 minutes to go back and forth but according to Aevermann, it felt like an eternity.

"That was probably one of the hardest swims I've ever done. The water doesn't even look like it's moving that fast.  It doesn't look like it's moving....my legs after that swim just feel like they are going to be carried off. I don't know what it would have been like if I wasn't wearing my life jacket," Aevermann said.

It serves as just a strong reminder of how powerful the river is and how wearing a life jacket can be the only way to survive it.

On June 21 the Rogue Valley YMCA will be hosting a free Water Safety Night not only teaching swim classes but help finding the appropriate size life jacket as well.

What do you think? Sound off on our Facebook page and on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Kyle Aevermann

Kyle Aevermann reports weekdays and anchors NBC 5 News Weekends. He joined NBC 5 News in March 2012 as a morning producer and reporter. Prior to joining KOBI, Kyle interned at KISL-FM on Catalina Island, CA. He was also a regular contributor to CNN's citizen journalism program.

Originally from the Chicago-land area, Kyle moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2009 to work in the social media industry. Kyle enjoys hiking, traveling, learning about cultures, and has a serious love for food.

Catch Kyle anchoring weekends on NBC 5 News at 6pm and 11pm.

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