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Drownings bring Salt River deaths
to 4 since June 30

July 10, 2006

Two young men drowned in the Salt River over the weekend, pushing the number of drownings there to well above average.

Two brothers, ages 16 and 24, were picnicking on the beach Saturday near Blue Point Bridge when they waded in to cool off and went under, officials said.

An onlooker alerted a Salt River Tubing bus driver, who alerted the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department. Divers recovered the bodies about 5:40 p.m., sheriff's Deputy Doug Matteson said.

The deputies did not release the identities of the brothers late Sunday because they had not yet notified their next of kin.

"This time of year, people are attracted to the water but don't think about the safety," Matteson said.

He said that on average, two to three people drown annually on the Salt River, but this year, there have been four since June 30.

Lynda Breault, vice president of Salt River Tubing, said there are two sets of rapids on the river's path between Point 1, Water Users, and Point 2, Blue Point Bridge.

This year's average water flow from the dam is between 1,300 and 1,600 cubic feet per second. That is higher than in the past several years, when the drought kept water flows as low as 500 cubic feet per second, Breault said.

Breault said it is common for people who aren't strong swimmers to struggle with the river.

"It's pretty strong," Breault said. "If you not a swimmer, you shouldn't be in the river."

Swimming safety tips:

* Learn how to swim.

* Swim in designated areas.

* Swim with others -- never by yourself.

* Watch children closely at all times.

* Never dive or swim in unknown waters.
Reproduced with permission from:
The Arizona Republic
By Katie Ruark
Copyright 2007 Arizona Republic

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