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After summer of rescues and drownings, Livingston Parish outlines ordinance for river safety

2 months 2 weeks 1 day ago Tuesday, September 21 2021 Sep 21, 2021 September 21, 2021 10:46 PM September 21, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

LIVINGSTON PARISH - As the season for Tiki Tubing along the Amite River winds down, discussion and potential action on how better to protect those using that waterway and others in the parish is ramping up.

"In the future, everybody understands what hazards exist, so when they get in the tube it's more than just signing a piece of paper," councilman Garry Talbert said during a virtual meeting of the ordinance committee Tuesday evening.

The meeting marked the second time the committee discussed river safety in the wake of dozens of Tiki Tubing rescues and two drownings over the summer.

Committee members appeared to nail down three areas of focus for a new ordinance: mandatory life vests for all tubers, and other river-goers, signage along river routes, and an activity-specific educational video.

"Heck, we put mile markers on the interstate, so you have some idea where you are," Talbert said when discussing the need for signs along waterways. "There probably needs to be some identification on the river to let you know, you're a quarter of the way through, halfway through. You're at the one-hour mark, the two-hour mark, the three-hour mark."

The video committee members want to be played ahead of activities should include the do's and don't's on the river, but also the consequences of not following instructions, Talbert said.

"They show you a video before you jump out of a plane," Talbert said. "They show you a video before you go white water rafting. They show you videos for bungee jumping. Before they get in that tube, they will know what's expected and what the hazard is."

Lisa Hilliard, the wife of Keith Hilliard, who drowned during a tubing trip over Father's Day weekend, says she and her family were not given the opportunity to know of the hazards along the river. She showed appreciation for the steps being taken Tuesday night but added that she wants to see more, including guides to lead tubers.

"Be it certified lifeguard or someone who has knowledge of that river, to be able to bring a group of people through that river," Hilliard said. "Because people are getting on the river with no guidance in the beginning, and they can't find anybody in between or at the end."

Hilliard, and her sister-in-law, Keith's twin sister, are pushing council members to go further with any ordinance. Council members vowed to them three-pronged approach is merely a start.

"If we try to get it perfect the first time, it could take forever," councilman Tracy Girlinghouse said. "We can put some things in place relatively quickly, and then just work toward...what we can do."

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