Playing it safe

July 2010 News

The Beemer family was taking no chances floating the McKenzie River Sunday, especially when it came to the precious cargo 21-year-old Heather Sells carried in her swollen belly: an infant daughter, due to make her debut Aug. 13.

"She'll be tied to me (with a rope) the whole time," Sells' father, Dick Beemer, said, hoisting his personal pontoon boat down the ramp at the Hayden Bridge landing near Springfield. "She'll be the safest mama-to-be out there."

Joining him on the nearly four-hour journey to Armitage Park was Beemer's wife, 47-year-old Kim Beemer, and another daughter, 31-year-old Mandy Beemer.

All four either wore safety vests or had them close at hand - even though, under the law, Dick Beemer was the only one required to. The law applies to his pontoon boat, but not to the inner-tube floats the other three used.

To Beemer, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Boats - even small ones - afford more protection against drowning than what essentially amounts to a pool toy.

"With one of these things, if it punctures on a rock, what do you do?" said Beemer, 57, whose lifelong passion for playing in the water - whether it be swimming or skiing or boating or floating - is shared by his daughters.

They also share his caution and appreciation for the fickleness of cold, fast-moving rivers such as the McKenzie.


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