Catawba Riverkeeper warns about boating dangers in high water

CATAWBA CO., NC (WBTV) - A Denver man lost his life in a Tennessee boating incident this past weekend.

Three people were in a boat that overturned below the Fort Loudoun Dam along the Tennessee River Saturday morning, according to WVLT.

WVLT reported that Donald McCorkle, 49, and Clint McCorkle, 22, survived, but A.J. Re, 23, of Denver died. The boat was reportedly pulled into water that was discharging from the dam.

WBTV spoke with Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins Monday regarding the incident.

"There are unfortunately a lot of people that don't respect the power that even a few inches of water can have," said Perkins. "It's very easy to take a car and sweep it in a creek or pull you under like what happened in Tennessee."

In the days prior to the boating death, parts of Tennessee and western North Carolina were hit with heavy rain. Perkins urged caution to anyone who thinks navigating high, fast-moving water is a good idea.

"It's incredibly risky not just for yourself but for the people that end up having to rescue you," said Perkins.

In late April, kayaker Michael Beer found himself in peril along the South Fork River. Following days of rain, Beer and one of his friends decided to go kayaking in the river. Beer had to be rescued after he fell out of his kayak and floated down the river.

Perkins said it is best to avoid rivers and lakes when water levels are riding high after a storm.

"Avoid the water. Avoid dams with floodgates that are open. Just give it some time for the water to slow down, d rop. It'll be much more pleasant to be out there anyway," Perkins said.

The Catawba Riverkeeper said a lot of the dams on the Catawba River have floodgates where water will be discharged. He said that getting close to the floodgates when they're discharging water is something boaters should never do.

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