Visitors are urged to stick with professional rafting services after near drowning
A 16-year-old girl is in critical condition at Erlanger after nearly drowning on the Ocoee River during a rafting trip on Sunday.
President of the Ocoee Outfitters Association Ryan Cook says the number one priority of rafting guides is safety.
Cooks says whenever incidents like this happen and someone is seriously injured, it affects everyone involved.
"Especially when you are out here doing something you love and your heart is in. Much less a business, this is a family, this is a community everybody involved, we treat this as one,” Cook said.
Cook says he can’t make any specific comments about the case, but does say the rafting community is grieving about what happened.
"Injuries are more of…just like you said accidents. They aren't meant to happen,” Cook said.
Officials say the teen was with the rafting group Great Expedition.
Cook says that something like this rarely happens.
"I want to tell my guides every day we are out here for safety and we do not want to get anybody hurt,” Cook said.
According to Ocoee Park officials, only three whitewater rafting injuries have been reported this year.
Last year, guides took almost 300,000 people on the Ocoee River with only 13 incidents.
Cook urges people to stick with the professionals.
"To run with the professional service, use a professional service for training to come out in a kayak on your own or to come whitewater rafting with a professional service. You can't say to use a professional service enough,” Cook said.
Tennessee State Parks is leading the ongoing investigation.
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