Deputies Patrol the Rock River To Ensure Safe Boating Over Memorial Day Weekend

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WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WIFR) -- The Rock River is a popular spot for families this Memorial Day weekend but the water can be a dangerous place if we don't pay attention so Winnebago County Sheriff’s Deputies are out in full force to make sure everyone has a safe holiday weekend on the water.

This isn't the first day Mark Winters and his son Ryan have brought their boat down to the Rock River this summer, and it definitely won't be their last.

"It’s good that its open, some years it is, some years it’s not so you got to take advantage while you can,” says Mark Winters.

Plenty of families will be taking advantage of the Rock over Memorial Day weekend and they won't be alone. Officers from both the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office are watching the waters.

"There is quite a bit of debris that is floating down the river, and so the operators really need to be cautious, just take their time and enjoy being out on the river,” says Deputy Gil Stansell.

Drivers have plenty of obstacles to keep an eye out for including other boaters who are pulling skiers or inter tubes, and jet skis. Many boaters like to enjoy a few drinks while out on the river but just like on the roads officers say they'll be watching for anyone who's had one too many.

"You can have a beverage or two but you cannot be over the limit of .08. We just want everyone to have a safe and happy holiday," says Stansell.

The holiday weekend is a perfect excuse for John Capone to pull his amphibious car out of the garage.

“On the road, it’s a little shaky; it’s only four and a half feet wide. It’s a better boat because you don't have to put it on the trailer, you can drive right in the water,” says John Capone.

Like any other boater, Capone has to have a working fire extinguisher, a whistle or horn and a life jacket for everyone on board. For parents like Mark Winters, his son has to wear a life jacket at all times, it’s required for all kids under 13.

Sherriff's deputies on the river say the most common mistake boaters make is that they don't follow wake restrictions near canals and boat launches.

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