The Cedar River was reopened by King County authorities for recreational uses Friday, but the Green River – where two people drowned two weeks ago – remained closed because of dangerous, fast-flowing water levels.
Conditions on both rivers prompted their closure May 17, the same date as the drownings. The bodies of the two victims still hadn’t been recovered as of Friday because the Green is too high and risky for a safe rescue attempt, according to the King County Sheriff Department.
One victim, an experienced kayaker, was 45 year old. The other victim, 34, was a man floating with friends on two inflatable rafts tied together. He wasn’t wearing a life jacket.
“The flow of the Cedar River has diminished considerably, and although still very cold, the public is free to use the river again,” said Sheriff Sue Rahr.
Both the Cedar and the Green were closed because snow melt-off off in the mountains caused by unseasonably warm weather made the rivers dangerous, officials said. Kayakers and raft users entered the streams, anyway.
In late spring, even as the weather warms up, rivers, lakes and Puget Sound are still extremely cold. Authorities have urged the public to use extreme precaution in and around open water.
“No matter what the outside temperature reads, late spring is not a good time to be swimming in local rivers, lakes or in the Sound,” said Dr. David Fleming, director of Seattle-King County Public Health Department. “Even the best swimmers with lifejackets are at risk for serious trouble in the cold water.”