Rescue Workers Help Clean Local River

By: Cheryn Stone
By: Cheryn Stone

June 30, 2007

While many people spent their Saturday relaxing on the river, public safety divers spent the day searching the James River for trash.

Trash and debris make water unsafe for swimming, canoeing, fishing, and for the public safety divers. Some local dive rescue and recovery teams took part in the James River clean-up.

In addition to its environmental problems, trash is a safety hazard for people who use the river. It's what you can't see in the water that can be the real problem.

"Entanglement is a big issue for public safety divers, you get into stuff when you're doing a rescue or a search you can get into a situation where there is fishing line or garden hose and when you're diving in black water where you can't see it you're caught before you realize it," said Captain John Lye of Lake Monticello Water Rescue.

In just four hours the Charlottesville Albemarle and Monticello Water Rescue teams recovered bottles, shoes, and tires among other things in their mound of trash.

"Today has been outstanding for us we're finding lots of different things," said Lye.

The divers spent Saturday rescuing the James River, but these are the crews who are called in for emergencies, like the rescue and recovery of people or evidence.

"We do get some drownings occasionally, but primarily it's more often somebody who is lost and we need to go find them, they're trapped on an island somewhere, that sort of thing," said Lye.

Saturday's dive helps the river, people who want to enjoy it, and the divers themselves.

"Every time we are in the water we are training together and working as a team which is really important to us. We spend a lot of time in practice and it definitely pays off for our safety and the safety of the community," said diver John Szczyglinski.

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