New life jacket rules now in place on the Oswego River
This month marks two years since the drowning of two fishermen in the Oswego River. Since that accident, city officials have been searching for new ways to improve safety on the river. Back in July, new legislation was passed limiting where fisherman can be without life jackets and as our Candace Hopkins reports, police have already begun enforcing the new law, ahead of the river's busy season.
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OSWEGO, N.Y. -- This year, fishermen returning to the Oswego River will find new restrictions on where they can wade in the river without a life jacket.
"With salmon season coming up, there's going to, between us and the DEC and Brookfield, will be down there, taking some more enforcement actions to keep everyone safe," said Oswego Police Lieutenant Charlie Searor.
Those actions will include ticketing anyone found wading in certain areas of the river without a life vest, areas where the water levels change quickly.
"We know the river could be a very dangerous place. With the water place that's there, the water rises very quickly when they need to release water, so the folks that are in there fishing may not have enough time to get out," said Lt. Searor.
By wearing a life jacket, the hope is that even if someone is swept away, they could be saved from drowning, which could keep first responders from having to risk their own lives in a water rescue.
"The safer people are down there and using the proper equipment, the less calls for service that the police and fire and ambulance and Coast Guard get for a large water operation. If someone goes into the river, you're using a lot of resources to try to save the person or look for the person," said Searor.
And although the season hasn't even started, police have already issued about 15 tickets for the offense.
While some people say wearing a life jacket can be a bit uncomfortable sometimes, many of the fishermen we caught up with say it is simply a necessity while fishing on this river, like Pennsylvania resident Bob Howell, who comes to Oswego each fall to fish.
"I believe this is a dangerous river to be walking around without some type of floatation device on. The river comes up too fast and it's a very dangerous place to fish, so I think it's a very good idea that people have to wear these floatation devices," said Howell.
But only time will tell if the restrictions will actually be followed when the season is in full swing.
The law also allows police to ticket anyone who fails to exit the water when a warning siren is activated, signaling unsafe water levels.
Major activity on the river is expected to pick up in the middle of September.