Deputies encourage caution ahead of impromptu Rogue River float gathering

GOLD HILL, Ore. – Local law enforcement authorities say they have safety concerns about a gathering on the Rogue River this coming weekend.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said a river floating event called “The Big D Float” is scheduled for June 22 between Gold Hill and Rogue River.

A Facebook page for the Big D Float states they’re hoping for the “biggest float southern Oregon has ever seen” to celebrate the life of Dustin Hill, also known as “Dirty D.”

According to the Big D Float event page on Facebook, the City of Rogue River didn’t grant the gathering any vendor permits. In addition, the page administrators admitted people were worried about floaters leaving the river a mess. To address the issue, representatives for the float said, “So this year is going to be our only chance to prove we can do this the right way.” Attendees were encouraged to pack trash bags so they don’t leave a mess behind.

In a Friday statement about the event, the sheriff’s office said, “Because no mass gathering permit has been granted, the event could inundate the area with people, but no added safety or security resources have been allocated.”

“We have concerns about so many people being on the river at once, especially with the water being so cold,” said Sergeant Shawn Richards. “Life jackets are a must and folks need to remember that it’s illegal—and unsafe—to boat while impaired.”

JCSO said they won’t have any extra staff to cover the waterways and there will be no added safety or security resources available when hundreds of people could be floating the river at once.

While floating the Rogue River, non-motorized boaters must carry a wearable U.S. Coast Guard-approved, properly-fitted life jacket for each person on board a boat, along with a whistle for each boat. Children under the age of 12 must wear a USCG-approved life jacket at all times while the boat is underway.

We want people to have fun on the water,” said Sgt. Richards, “But safety should be the first priority.”

NBC5 News is working on following up with the organizers of the Big D Float. Updates will be made to this story as more information becomes available.

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