Chippewa River tubers heed warning, FATFAR crowd one of the smal - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Chippewa River tubers heed warning, FATFAR crowd one of the smallest

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Chippewa Co. (WQOW) - High water levels had police officers on high alert during Sunday’s FATFAR. Chippewa County law enforcement said this year's crowd was one of the smallest they've seen.

The Chippewa Falls Police Department sent out an alert prior to Sunday's event, urging people to think twice before getting on the Chippewa River. Officers said, because of the recent rainfall, the river is high and the current is strong. The Lake Hallie Police Department said it typically has six officers patrolling the event, but because of this year's low attendance, they had two. Lake Hallie said it issued about five citations, two of which were for underage drinking.

Chippewa Falls Police Dept. (Press Release) - The Chippewa Falls Police Department wants to caution everyone participating on the FATFAR that high water levels have resulted in a very fast current on the Chippewa River. In addition, the forecast calls for possible rain and thunderstorms, possibly including lightning. Participants are encouraged to not float the river today. If you choose to, please use extreme caution. Understand that the police and fire departments response time to a floater in distress out on the water can be 15 minutes or more, depending on where in the river they are and drowning is a possibility.

Chippewa Falls (WQOW) - An annual river event draws out dozens of tubers every year, but it also brings out extra law enforcement.

The Frenchtown Annual Tube Float and Regatta, known as FATFAR, will take place Sunday. Chippewa Falls Police said they may amp up patrol, depending on the size of the crowd. The sheriff's department will have its water safety team on the Chippewa River. The DNR will be helping out too. Police said the hundreds of people floating down the river and drinking will have officers on high alert.

Sergeant Korry Boos, for the Chippewa Falls Police Department, said, "Due to the fact that the river does appear to be higher than usual in previous years, the current is appearing to move a little faster. One of our concerns is that if somebody does become intoxicated, and they may not realize how strong the current is, or they may get away from their floating device and prove to be a bad error on their part because they're so intoxicated."

Enforcement doesn’t stop once the floating is over. Police said most people will find a designated driver, something they encourage.

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