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Part of Spokane River closed for safety

Tue., June 2, 2009, 6:01 p.m.

Spokane County sheriff asks “most dangerous” stretch be off-limits

Spokane County commissioners closed a portion of the Spokane River through the Valley this afternoon at the request of Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

The stretch from the Harvard Road Bridge to the Barker Road Bridge is “the most dangerous part of the Spokane River at this time” because of debris and high water from melting snow, Knezovich said.

That section of the river is closed to boaters, rafters, kayakers, floaters and swimmers until further notice. Anyone who enters the river and refuses a deputy’s order to leave can be cited for obstruction of justice, Knezovich said.

Knezovich made the request at the commissioners’ morning briefing, where they were given a similar request from Spokane Valley Fire Battalion Chief Ken Capaul. Commissioners approved it at their 2 p.m. meeting, after turning down a request from David Elton to extend the closure by a mile on either end because the river is so dangerous.

The sheriff, however, assured the board closing the river at Harvard was adequate. The main concern is debris building up at the Barker Road Bridge, which can’t be cleared until the river goes down.

The sheriff said the river should be closed to all boaters, regardless of experience.

“Frankly, it’s too much of a burden to decide who should and who shouldn’t be in that water,” he said.

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