Tragedy Prompts New Warnings About Black River

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A five year old boy drowned Saturday and the 47 year old man who went in after him is missing and presumed drowned.

Now, many questions are being raised about river safety - like how can people stay safe when on or even near the Black River?

That's something the Watertown Fire Department knows a lot about.

The firefighters have performed more than 60 rescue missions in just the last ten years.

"For a long time, and many of our residents will remember, the advice was just to stay away from the river. And over the past ten or 20 years there's been a push that it's a wonderful resource that we have, and a lot of people enjoy it," said Fire Department Battalion Chief Matthew Timerman. 

There are ways you can enjoy the river and be safe while doing it.

If you're out fishing, make sure you stick to one of the designated fishing access sites.

"If you're going to be in the vicinity of the water, life jackets are a great idea. Another good idea would be to take a friend along with you. And perhaps when you leave, let friends and family know where you're going and what time you expect to be back," said Timerman.

One woman says she knows the dangers of the Black River all too well.

Tammy Hornsby lost her nine year old son, TJ, in a fishing accident similar to the one on Saturday.

In 2003, TJ was fishing with his family in the river by Felts Mills, when a surge of water swept him away.

Ten years later, Hornsby says she still feels the pain.

"We have to grieve forever. Don't be one of the statistics. Do something about it," she said.

Hornsby says the Black River is not a force to be reckoned with.

It's powerful and fast and she hopes everyone who uses it for recreation will do so with caution.

Friday, December 19, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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