Ultimate Bass

Danger lurks beneath Red River

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents, along with marine patrols from Bossier and Caddo parishes, are urging boating enthusiasts on the Red River to beware of a potential danger lurking beneath the surface in…

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents, along with marine patrols from Bossier and Caddo parishes, are urging boating enthusiasts on the Red River to beware of a potential danger lurking beneath the surface in some areas.

Silt deposited from the high, muddy waters of the last couple of months has extended sandbars in several areas and many of the extensions are virtually undetectable with the naked eye. Some are in what appear to be open channels and could prove deadly to boaters running at high speeds.

“The river has changed significantly over the past few weeks, so people need to be extremely careful,” LDWF Sgt. Troy Parker said. “What looks like open water and maybe was open water a couple of months ago, may be only two to six inches deep.

“People need to wear their personal flotation devices and they need to make sure their boat is equipped with a kill switch.”

Two accidents occurred Sunday and Monday in areas not far from Clark’s Red River Marina and the Red River South Marina. Charles Patterson, who launched early Monday morning at Bishop’s Point, a public launch on the Shreveport side, hit a sandbar inside the Caspiana oxbow and was thrown out of his crappie boat that is driven with a front handle.

According to Parker, one of Patterson’s feet was severed at the ankle when his boat, which did not have a kill switch, kept running and went over him. Patterson, 79, managed to pull himself back into the boat and was motoring to a launch when help arrived.

“I kept asking him if he was alright, because it was obvious there was a lot of blood there,” Parker said. “He was very lucky that the motor didn’t hit his head and didn’t sever the main artery in his leg.”

Patterson remains at LSU Hospital in Shreveport, where he is listed in good condition, according to hospital officials.

The second area of concern in the southern stretch is just south of Clark’s Marina and within sight of Joe D. Waggoner Lock and Dam No. 5. Clark’s manager Dennis Mitchell has been adamant about warning anglers who launch from his marina and he’s posted the following message on his Web site in flaming red letters: “THE HIGH WATER HAS CREATED NEW HAZARDS ON THE RED RIVER. THE SAND BAR BETWEEN THE CLARK’S MARINA AND THE ROCK JETTY, SOUTH OF US, GOES FROM THE TREE LINE TO THE MAIN RIVER. THERE IS ALSO ONE ON THE WEST SIDE OF THE CASPIANA ROCKS. PLEASE BE CAREFUL!!”

Local veterinarian Dr. Robert Henderson witnessed the accident and helped get Jack Allen to the bank where South Bossier Fire Department personnel took the man to Willis-Knighton.

“Mr. Allen apparently was thrown into the Plexiglas on the boat’s windshield, because he had a severe scalp wound and the boat was full of blood,” Henderson said. “It was 100-plus degrees and he was soaked with blood. Fortunately, I had some compression bandages that we got on him just as he became pale as a ghost. One of the people asked me if I was an EMT. I said, ‘no, but this guy looks like a salty old dog and I’ll work on him as long as he doesn’t bite me.'”

Neither LDWF nor Bossier Parish sheriff’s deputies worked the Sunday accident.

Caddo Marine Patrol Sgt. Donna Jackson said there are sandbars everywhere on the river since the high water disappeared, including one near a new Benton subdivision north of I-220 and at the main entrance to the Red River South Marina.

“I’ve been expecting more accidents on the sandbar near Clark’s and we’ve pulled quite a few people off it,” Jackson said. “Every year that we get this high water we get new sandbars. It’s like the boat launches. Everybody gets mad because we don’t open the boat launches right away when the water levels are safe, but there’s so much silt. They have to come in with a barge and drag it out.”

Mitchell said he has had conversations with the Red River Waterway Commission, while others have spoken with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and with Homeland Security through the U.S. Coast Guard. No one is apparently sure who is responsible for marking the dangerous sites or for dredging them.

“The sandbar near us was there last year, but it has grown 300 yards closer to the rock jetty,” Mitchell said. “Some of the rocks are missing at the Caspiana jetty from the high water knocking them out. That’s allowed the silt to seep in and build up. These are two popular thoroughfares for boaters on the river.

“But no one seems to know what to do. I’m open for suggestions.”

By Jimmy Watson •Sheveport Times• July 17, 2009



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