Police renew warnings to stay away from fast-moving rivers after Spanish Fork close call

May 11, 2023, 6:37 AM

Water flowing at Spanish Fork River. (Joshua Butts)...

Water flowing at Spanish Fork River. (Joshua Butts)

(Joshua Butts)

SPANISH FORK, Utah — There has been no shortage of warnings this spring about rivers and creeks that are running fast and high and yet police said Tuesday provided the latest example of people continuing to put themselves in harm’s way.

According to Spanish Fork Police Lt. Cory Slaymaker, officers and Utah County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched along a roughly 5-mile stretch of the Spanish Fork River Tuesday evening after reports from concerned residents about 4 teens entering the river with kayaks near The Oaks at Spanish Fork golf course.

“It was running so fast, we didn’t know exactly where they were,” Slaymaker said in an interview Wednesday.

Slaymaker said law enforcement eventually found and accounted for the 4 teens by the time they were safely out of the river, but they learned the journey had plenty of room for potential peril.

“(Deputies) were able to make contact with one who advised that a couple of the kayaks had tipped over,” Slaymaker said.

Slaymaker said given those circumstances and the murky, high and fast conditions along the river, the situation could have ended poorly.

“It definitely could have gone bad and, you know, there’s not only the water but there’s a lot of debris,” Slaymaker said.

Slaymaker said the city had placed signs along the trail next to the river warning of the possible hazard and noted that police had stepped up patrols along the river in some areas—particularly during after-school hours when many kids pass through on their way home.

He urged people to use common sense and caution—whether in Spanish Fork or elsewhere around the State of Utah this spring.

“Please stay out of the water, let it subside—it’s going to be a couple months until we get the snow melt off,” Slaymaker said. “We just don’t want somebody getting hurt and/or a life taken because something looked fun but the safety is always a different story.”

Stacey Stone was among the many passing along the trail next to the river near the Spanish Fork Sports Park, 295 W. Voluneer Dr., and said she’d never witnessed the waters like they have been recently.

“I’ve never seen it brown like this—or this fast,” Stone said. “I think it’s more scary with how fast it’s going than how high it is.”

She said because of the conditions, she had buckled her grandson into a stroller.

“We’ve just put him in a stroller just for today to make sure that he didn’t even get close to it,” Stone said. “We just didn’t want to take any chances.”

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Police renew warnings to stay away from fast-moving rivers after Spanish Fork close call