I remember giving away a bunch of canoe rentals to radio listeners and gathering everybody together for some fun on the Ouisko Chitto some year ago. It started as a great trip; but did not end that way.

getty images/ Dick Smith

We all left the launch area together and the fun ensued. My wife and I had some adult beverages as did a lot of our crew. We just floated and relaxed. We spent time laughing at others as they tip their canoes. It was the usual fun trip. It changed fast when we rounded a corner and saw that everyone was pulling their canoes over.

We ask what was happening and were informed that someone had just jumped from the steep bank (opposite of the beach we were on) and never resurfaced. I am a good swimmer and was even a lifeguard in my younger days so I swam over and dived trying to find the swimmer.  Several people were repeatedly diving trying to find him. None of us found him. Divers finally arrived and pulled him up but it was too late. That response time will now be faster.

The steep bank was clearly marked as very dangerous. We were told that this was not the first fatality due to someone jumping from this very bank. It was very sad and pointed out the need for more safeguards.

I was glad to see the KPLC story about the mile markers being added to this busy water way. It will certainly aid in response time; but canoeist acting responsibly is the first step to a safe outing. A day on the Ouiska Chitto will always be one of my favorite ways to get away for a day. I'm just a little more careful now.