Stay safe this Memorial Day weekend

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Photo by HOLLY LINDSEY Captain Groves and Sgt. Bilaski use an air boat to search for a missing woman that fell into the Coeur d’Alene River on Memorial Day weekend last year. Her body was later located in mid-June.

For the last three years in a row, emergency crews in the Silver Valley have had the displeasure of responding to a call on Memorial Day weekend in which someone was killed as the result of a preventable incident.

With this in mind, the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office wants the cycle to stop this year and ensure that everyone has a fun (but also safe) holiday.

When it comes to outdoor recreation in the Silver Valley around this time of the year, the most common activities revolve around motor vehicles (ATVs, UTVs, etc.), alcohol and the river.

Shoshone County Sheriff Mike Gunderson and Captain Jeremy Groves said that while all of these can be fun, making the right choices while enjoying them will go a long way in avoiding injury or death.

The local deaths in 2016 and 2017 involved the first two factors — motor vehicles and alcohol.

To prevent incidents like these from happening, Groves recommends simply making smart choices.

“When it comes to anything alcohol related, use common sense,” he said. “Don’t drink and drive or don’t drink and use motorized equipment. It will keep you from avoiding the potential of going to jail, getting a ticket, receiving serious injury or even death.”

In an extra effort to watch out for people’s safety this weekend, Sheriff Gunderson explains that his office will have an increased presence at popular recreation areas, such as the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River.

“We will have extra patrols on the North Fork of the river with a deputy assigned to the upper North Fork and another deputy assigned to the lower North Fork,” he said. “We will be working on DUI’s, traffic control, parking, bottles on the river and littering.”

Those who like to park on the old road along the river between BumbleBee and Albert’s Landing are reminded that if you park in an area with a solid yellow line, you will receive a citation and/or your vehicle will be towed.

“A solid yellow designates do not cross or park,” Gunderson said. “There are several signs stating this up and down the river.”

The most recent local death on Memorial Day weekend in 2018 involved the final factor — the river.

Both Gunderson and Groves stress that whoever plans to be near the river this weekend should be mindful of not only its speed and depth, but also its temperature.

“Would like to remind people that the water has risen in the past week,” Gunderson said. “The power of the water is deceiving, along with the temperature of the water still being extremely cold.”

With snow still melting in higher elevations of the county, the temperature of the Coeur d’Alene River remains low and has not caught up with the season.

Combine near-freezing temperatures with a powerful current and you get incredibly dangerous conditions.

Lastly, for those who wish to do some camping or backpacking, Groves recommends ensure that you have a plan and the necessary gear to survive. Part of having plan also involves making sure someone who isn’t coming along knows where you are going.

“Go out, have fun and recreate,” Groves said. “Make sure you have a plan.”

“We hope everybody has a safe Memorial Day weekend,” Gunderson said.

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