St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The US Army Corps of Engineers says a near tragedy last week on the Mississippi River underscores the need for safety during the Independence Day holiday.

Officials a St. Paul say a disabled pontoon boat was being swept downstream by the fast current on the Mississippi River and was headed straight toward the roller gates on Lock and Dam 3 near Red Wing. A news release says operators of the facility were able to dispatch and launch an emergency boat and rescue everyone on the stricken pontoon boat just before they went over the dam. Officials say everyone came through the ordeal on June 26th without injury thanks to assistance from the Prairie Island Police Department and the Goodhue County Sheriff's Department.

Heading into the holiday, the Corps of Engineers listed some of the best practices to follow.

  • Carry a marine radio – tuned to channel 16, designated as the international distress frequency
  • Carry extra gas – swift river currents can quickly push disabled vessels into harm’s way
  • Carry an appropriate-sized anchor – the anchor should be able to still your vessel, with enough line to remain secure at alternate depths
  • Observe restricted areas – set at 600-feet upstream of a dam and 150-feet below
  • Be courteous of other vessels – especially commercial tows, which will be more prevalent on the water and take up to a quarter-mile to stop

Officials are also urging extra caution when boating on the Mississippi due to sediment that is shifting in the areas that are normally much deeper because of the extended periods of high and fast-moving water that have been present since the spring melt.

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