Drowning should raise safety concerns

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The recent drowning of a kayaker on the Neuse River at Goldsboro is a tragic event, and it should put a clear message to all leisure boaters.

The incident happened when the river was high and its waters swollen due to recent rainfall in the area.

The Neuse, under high-water conditions, has powerful under currents that make it a major threat to seasoned boaters and experienced swimmers.

I am not a kayaker, but grew up playing, swimming, fishing and boating on the Neuse.

A visit there can be a pleasure or a danger and it depends upon conditions.

It has to be respected at all times.

I have been on countless treks by boat up and down the Neuse from Goldsboro to Seven Springs.

It is a beautiful, historic river and an untapped source for both peaceful and educational recreation.

Over an entire lifetime of enjoying what the river had to offer, I always had reservations about being on it during stormy weather or when its waters were high due to heavy rainfall.

The Neuse becomes more treacherous and life threatening overnight.

The heavy runoff from populated areas and farms leave the swift waters of the Neuse with a muddy appearance and riddled with discarded debris caught and piled up in a massive mess where trees have fallen.

These pile-ups strongly impact the flow of the waters, particularly when the river is high and the strong current is hidden beneath the surface.

Eventually, as it has for hundreds of years, it recedes and returns to its face of peacefulness, solitude and home for an abundance of wildlife.

It is certainly a gentle giant, and it is there today for those who care for it and respect it.

Hopefully, those who utilize the pleasures of the river now and those in the future, will show the respect and care that is needed.

Naturalists learn through experience and those attracted to our rivers respect it, respect the legal rules of the water and harbor a strong resentment to those who flagrantly pollute our waterways.

Hopefully the recent drowning will open our eyes and make us adhere to safety on water.

Make safety your priority.

The late Southern Sportsman Franc White always ended his PBS Saturday morning television show with, “Do yourself a favor and take a kid fishing.”

Do that and teach the importance of safety while you are at it.

William Holloman is a staff writer for the Mount Olive Tribune.

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