Crews have rescued 50 people from the Rio Grande since April

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Since April, there have been more than 50 water rescues in the Rio Grande. Those rescues have been a combination of tubers and kayakers of all experience levels. 

The high water is hiding hazards and pushing people into downed trees. 

“There is more debris as the river starts to bend that you cannot see, and that is when we are trying to explain,” said Corrales Fire Chief Anthony Martinez.

Bernalillo County deputies had to pull a family onto their rescue boat because of a downed tree. 

Martinez says there have been no deaths on their part of the river, but crews are also trying to be proactive rather than reactive. 

“We have aggressively tried to pull out the trees or tried to get to the trees before they fell into the river, and we were successful with some of them. But the high water flow eroded a lot of our banks, and washed up a lot of the vegetation that used to be here is now in the middle of the river,” said Martinez. 

Combine those trees with fast water, and inexperienced people on the water – it’s a recipe for disaster.

“One weekend we must have had 10 rescues on just the one tree because the current was taking people right into that tree, and there was no way around it,” Martinez said. 

Earlier this week, Corrales and Bernalillo County crews rescued 12 people, including five children, who got into trouble on tubes.

Signs warning folks of the dangers and risks are out, but officials are doing even more because of the number of close calls they’ve seen recently.

“Every weekend, Corrales Fire Department has someone here at Siphon Saturdays and Sundays. Educating the public, trying to reinforce the rules and talk to people, and let them know about the dangers they may experience. And the risks that they are taking by getting in this water of injury or death,” said Martinez. 

If you still plan to get on the river, Martinez wants everyone to know it is the law to wear a life jacket. It’s best to bring a paddle or something to help you steer in the water to avoid trees and other hazards.

He says now is not the time for inexperienced tubers and kayakers to enter the Rio Grande.