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UOPD tips for staying safe in the water



University of Oregon students are putting away the rain boots and pulling out the sunglasses. Some students will be taking advantage of the spring weather by heading to local lakes and rivers.

The Outdoor Program hosts Friday Floats where students can take inflatable kayaks to local rivers and go rafting. This is one of the many ways students take advantage of nature when the sun comes out in Eugene.

On May 19, a UO sophomore died at an annual student trip to Lake Shasta. While the cause of death has not been released, according to the Shasta County Sheriff’s report water was not involved in his death.

University of Oregon Police Department spokesman Kelly McIver said he has records of five student drownings since 2011, two of them as recently as 2015.

UOPD’s water-safety tips:

  • Know how to swim
  • Don’t mix alcohol or other intoxicants with water recreation
  • Enter the water feet-first
  • When boating, wear a life jacket
  • Don’t go alone
  • When at the beach: always face the ocean, avoid large logs or driftwood, don’t dive from cliffs, observe signs and faces, be aware of tides

McIver also mentioned three student-athlete drownings, one as recent as 2013. In 2008, 19-year-old UO freshman football player Todd Doxey drowned in the McKenzie River while on a tubing trip with teammates.

McIver said the drowning of basketball player Jesse Nash on Mother’s Day of 1987 was while he was a student at UO and “stuck with me,” along with the death of a sorority member on the Lake Shasta trip around 1988.

ASUO President Amy Schenk also sent out an all-student email with water-safety tips as well. Here are her tips:

  • Wear a life jacket! About 85 percent of drowning fatalities were people not wearing a life jacket.
  • Avoid getting too tired, too cold, too much sun, or too far from safety.
  • Be aware of currents, rapids, and waves, as well as underwater obstacles like trees, rocks, and debris.
  • Leave the water at the first sign of thunder or lightning.
  • Always make sure to let someone know where you are going.

Schenk also reminded students traveling to Lake Shasta to represent the university well and that they may still subject to the Student Code of Conduct.

As the year winds down and students try to squeeze in some memories before leaving for the summer or graduating, McIver said students can’t let the warm weather fool them. He wanted to remind students that rocks and things below the surface might not always be visible and that currents can be stronger than they look from the riverbank or shore.

With the Willamette River being so close, not to mention other nearby lakes, rivers, the Pacific Ocean, and Lake Shasta, water safety is a life-and-death topic as we get into the warmer months,” McIver said.


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Becca Robbins

Becca Robbins

Becca Robbins is a News Reporter. She is a junior majoring in journalism and minoring in creative writing. She loves to read and watch sports.