Memorial Day weekend: safety on the water

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is expecting a record-breaking number of people to hit the lakes and rivers this Memorial Day weekend.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio says the dive team will be on standby for potential drownings.

While doing a story on water safety, a call came over the radio where a teenager drank too much and didn't look good. It's an example of the problems of drinking and tubing on the Salt River.

Arpaio says the great weather this weekend could bring 30,000 tubers to the river each day.

He's urging people to be responsible.

A tour of the Salt River, on the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Air boat quickly turned into a real life emergency as we spotted tubers waving us down.

Deputies say they got the call for help after the 17-year-old drank too much. He was barely responsive when investigators brought him to shore.

"That's just an example of what we face, where's the supervision there, you gotta watch out for each other too," said Sheriff Arpaio.

The Sheriff said they responded to 50 alcohol-related calls each weekend at the Salt River Alone.

He said he's concerned about the unusually high number of drownings.

Six people have died on the lakes and rivers so far this year, compared to 14 drownings in all of last year.

"When you lose six already, what's going to happen this whole season, so I worry about that," he said.

Deputies highlighted a specific area where a number of drownings happened because they are intoxicated, try to swim across the river but don't make it.

"They want to have some fun, but we're losing too many people," said Arpaio.

The 17-year-old rescued by deputies was taken in an ambulance to the hospital; he's since been released.

Deputies say this won't be the last call for help they get on the water this holiday.

"I hope I'm wrong, but someone is going to die this weekend, who it's going to be we don't know, I hope I'm wrong," he said.

The Salt River was moving slow on Thursday; it was taking people six hours to tube six miles, so you can imagine the drinking that was going on.

On top of limiting alcohol, Arpaio suggests tubers drink lots of water and wear sunscreen.
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