Riverbanks are scary unstable now, so stay back, warns safety expert

May 5, 2023, 5:30 PM

The National Weather Service still has numerous flood warnings and other advisories in place across...

FILE: Eroding banks are roped off as the Weber River swells from a melting snowpack in Fort Buenaventura Park in Ogden on Monday, April 17, 2023. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Libby Stimpson, 28, was walking her dogs Monday along the banks of the Weber River when she was swept into the torrent.  Crews set up checkpoints along the Weber but by Tuesday afternoon, they had pivoted to a recovery effort. A water-safety expert talks about the danger of eroding riverbanks from high-flowing rivers and creeks.

Family identifies woman swept into Weber River

Jason Curry, director of the Utah Division of Outdoor Recreation, talks to Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic about water safety and keeping a safe distance from rivers as ice-cold spring runoff roars down from the mountains.

“It’s not only the river — how fast the river is moving — it’s also the banks,” Debbie said. “They can be really unstable as well if you get close to the edge.”

“Not only is the water volume way higher, but it’s super-cold water. And so along with that, especially with the high flows, banks can become unstable,” Curry said. “We can’t emphasize enough how dangerous it is to be near the water . . . especially young children and pets.”

Never jump into a raging river to save someone

“Speaking of young children, I think Debbie and I over the years have covered so many of these stories,” Dave said. “One in particular stands out to me: I remember a young child went in and the mother follow that child immediately. I mean it was one after the other because they just couldn’t help themselves and then they both drowned. What do you do as a parent? I know it’s counterintuitive, but what’s the advice?”

“If a child or even a dog goes in, your first reaction is going to be to jump right in there,” Cury said. “That’s, you know, that’s a parental instinct. Even the best parents can turn their back for a moment and then the child wanders in. Do not go in after them.

“Just take that pause and think ‘OK, what’s the best thing to do here?” and oftentimes, the best thing to do is to first of all, call 911 and then make sure you have a good description, keep your eye on that person and then follow downstream along the bank, keeping a safe distance as much as you can and then look for an opportunity downstream to effect a rescue,” he said.

Be careful fishing along riverbanks

“Matt Johnson, our meteorologist, was just in studio with us, and he even said if you’re fishing along the banks, don’t right now because the banks themselves are so unstable from the high flows and as much water as we’re getting, and they can actually just dissolve underneath your feet,” Debbie said.

“Erosion right now is happening in different places we’ve never seen it before. That bank that you’re standing on can be undercut. We’re seeing it all over the state. I’ve seen it even along the Jordan River, and even the mountain streams. Keep your distance and watch for that,” Curry said.

The National Park Service: River and Stream Safety


Flood warning in place for South Fork of Ogden River


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Breaking News

Highland High school students arrested...

Devin Oldroyd

Two high school students arrested after allegedly bringing firearms on Highland High campus

Salt Lake City Police Department's school resource officers arrested three high school students after recovering two loaded firearms Monday.

22 hours ago

Thunderstorm moves over Daybreak, Utah. (Photo credit: Jason Yeaman)...

Waverly Golden

Parts of Utah experienced a severe thunderstorm, Pride Festival back on

The severe thunderstorm warning, issued by the National Weather Service of Salt Lake City around noon today, continues to be in place. 

3 days ago

The Salt Lake City Fire Department responded to an abandoned building that was on fire at 220 S. 20...


Fire at abandoned building forces evacuation of 55 apartments nearby in Salt Lake City

The Salt Lake City Fire Department responded to an abandoned building that was on fire at 220 S. 200 East late Friday night.

3 days ago

Rescuers work at the site of passenger trains that derailed in Balasore district, in the eastern In...

ASHOK SHARMA Associated Press

Passenger trains derail in India, killing at least 50, trapping many others

Two passenger trains have derailed in India, killing at least 50 people and trapping hundreds of others inside more than a dozen damaged rail cars.

4 days ago

The store owner, identified as 58-year-old Rick Chow, was arrested and charged Monday with Cyrus’...

Rebekah Riess and Nouran Salahieh, CNN

Convenience store owner in So. Carolina charged with murder

A South Carolina convenience store owner has been charged with murder after allegedly chasing a 14-year-old boy and shooting him in the back after suspecting the boy of shoplifting, authorities said.

5 days ago

Thirty six year old Manuel Burciaga-Perea was extradited from Mexico City to Taylorsville, Utah aft...

Waverly Golden

Suspect in 2021 murder of radio host extradited to Utah from Mexico City

Thirty six year old Manuel Burciaga-Perea was extradited from Mexico City to Taylorsville, Utah after he fled the country following the murder of a popular Latina radio host Gabby Ramos in 2021. 

10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

Group of cheerful team members high fiving each other...

Visit Bear Lake

How To Plan a Business Retreat in Bear Lake This Spring

Are you wondering how to plan a business retreat this spring? Read our sample itinerary to plan a team getaway to Bear Lake.

Cheerful young woman writing an assignment while sitting at desk between two classmates during clas...

BYU EMBA at the Marriott School of Business

Hear it Firsthand: 6 Students Share Their Executive MBA Experience at BYU’s Marriott School of Business

The Executive MBA program at BYU offers great opportunities. Hear experiences straight from students enrolled in the program.

Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a New Winter Activity? Try Skijoring in Bear Lake

Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and gates.

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...

Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer.

Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy.

Riverbanks are scary unstable now, so stay back, warns safety expert