Press Release


Correction on the date of this rescue. It was July 2nd not June.

Kittitas County, WA - 07/03/2017 - Members of the team were called to two separate incidents Saturday the 2nd involving 11 people who hit log jams on the Yakima River between Irene Rinehart Park and the Ringer boat launch, 3 miles south of Ellensburg.

The first group, a family of 6 with ages 16 to 45, who attempted to float on inner tubes that were tied together. Rescuers found them entangled in a log jam. All were retrieved without injury by jet boat.
The second group, 7 adult friends, who encountered a down tree just up-river from the first group, were all able to swim to shore. They too were picked up by jet boat and taken to the launch area.

Medics from KVFR were on scene to evaluate the victims for impact injuries and/or hypothermia. None were injured.

The Sheriff's Office would like to remind people planning to float the river that there are some steps they can take to increase their safety.

It is very important to match you vessel and skill set to the body of water you plan to go on. Some areas of the river require a very maneuverable craft and a very skilled operator. Trying to navigate these sections of river with small rafts or inner-tubes often ends in some form of tragedy.  We strongly advocate not tying tubes or vessels together when floating areas where you may need to maneuver to avoid obstacles.

The river conditions are constantly changing. You may safely float a channel one day and find it completely blocked by a fallen tree the next. Stay vigilant and look as far ahead as possible. If you are not familiar with the water, you can call the Sheriff's Office and ask to speak with a member of the Marine Unit.

Wearing a life jacket also increases your chance of survival in most cases. There are many different types and styles of personal floatation devices (PFD's) on the market. Some meet the legal requirements and some do not. Some are good for moving water and some are not.  For example, a collar style inflatable is well suited in open water to keep you afloat until rescued, but we do not recommend it for swift water as it is nearly impossible to swim with efficiency. This makes it very difficult to avoid obstacles. A good PFD for moving water fits snugly around the torso, is low profile and allows unrestricted movement of the arms and shoulders.

For more information on water safety, you can contact the Sheriff's Marine Unit or go to the Washington State Parks Web Site


Kittitas County, from the Cascades to the Columbia, and online at


Contact: Clayton Myers, Undersheriff