Deputies Patrolling River for Fourth of July

ROCKFORD (WIFR) – With all the rain we’ve had lately, the river levels are very high which means a no wake restriction on the Rock River. The River is usually packed on the Fourth of July with boaters speeding up and down it, but that wasn’t the case today and the kids weren’t too happy about it.

Cousins Nathan and Elisa Swanson were ready to spend the holiday with their family speeding up and down the Rock River. Instead they’re taking a slower pace thanks to a no-wake restriction on the Rock River. But the adults in the group don’t seem to mind.

“It’s okay. It’s a leisure day, it’s the 4th, it doesn’t have to be crazy and it’s so packed so you might as well just take it easy and enjoy the day,” said boater JoAnna Swanson.

But Winnebago County Sheriff’s Deputies patrolling the River say the restriction is keeping many boaters away. A normally packed Rock River on the 4th is almost empty.

“There isn’t a lot right now. We’ve probably only seen 10, 15 boats as of right now,” said Deputy Trent Ostergard with the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department.

Even with just a few boats out, deputies will be out all day and night looking for boaters breaking the rules of the water.

“We’re looking for boats overloaded with people, if there’s too many people on the boat, naturally excessive alcohol, drinking, speeders,” said Deputy Ostergard.

Deputies expect to find more of that as the day goes on and more people hit the water to fireworks.

“I don’t think the no wake restriction is going to keep the boaters off the river because it is a great place to park and see the fireworks. I think come 4 or 5 o’clock it will be more lively after the parade and all that," Swanson said.

The river was moving very fast today and there’s still a lot of debris in the water, so deputies are really encouraging boaters just to take it slow. They also said it’s nice they have that no wake restriction because there are always so many boaters out on the river for fireworks. It keeps everyone safer when they have to go slow.

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