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Fire department drives home need for safety on rivers, lakes

2 drowning reported so far this year

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – The New Braunfels Fire Department's dive team does very specialized work, including rescues and recoveries in some difficult conditions.

After two drownings this summer, department officials said they're hoping to hammer home a simple truth about area lakes and rivers that can be deadly.

"There are nine divers -- public safety divers -- (that) have done a lot of collaboration with Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR)," Captain Patrick O'Connell said. "They provide assistance to 13 counties."

The New Braunfels Fire Department's dive team has been assisting in and around the area for two decades.

"This summer alone, we've already had two drownings in close participate," O'Connell said. "We have also responded to Canyon Lake."

O'Connell said one man was found by other tubers, despite the fact that there are several signs around the river that detail the risk involved.

"What's deceiving about this river is some parts are deep, other parts may only be 5 (feet) deep," O'Connell said.

He said apart from packing the sunscreen and drinks, river-goers need to make sure children have life vests and are supervised.

Some families go already prepared.

"(Some) aren't excellent swimmers, so we wanted to make sure they are fully protected," O'Connell said. "If you are not familiar with the waterways, we encourage you to use the outfitters (to) bring you back to the car."

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