Search for lost boater continues, instructor provides safety tips

The search continues for the body of a local husband and father whose boat capsized and went through the lock and dam at Le Claire. It’s the type of tragedy that happens too often on our river, even those very familiar with the Mississippi’s power and strength know there’s only so much anyone can do out there.

Judy and Jack Tumbleson have been teaching boating courses for more than 30 years.

“The main idea of our courses is to come in, have fun. Learn about what to avoid, what not to avoid so you don’t have to worry all the time you’re out there,” said Jack.

They have small classes of about five students and while they prefer the small class size, it could mean more inexperienced boaters out on the water.

“When you look at it, it looks like it’s all one big thing. It’s about 20 little creeks, all flowing together, different speeds, different directions.”

On Tuesday, May 6, 2014, a boat capsized, taking all five passengers through a dam’s rollers and taking the life of one.

Get more coverage on the incident — click here.

Jack remembers a similar accident 30 years ago the same lock and dam.

“There’s so much water going under the rollers it sucked that 24 ft boat straight down and spit it out below the rollers,” said Jack.

While it’s hard to say if those accidents could have been prevented, Jack says you’ll need to be at least 600 feet away if not more. That way if something does goes wrong you have more time to react. That and other safety tips are taught in Jack’s class.

“If people did only one thing, they would wear life jackets. It’s like a life insurance policy, except for paying off, keeps you alive,” said Jack.

Jack says he believes the life jackets saved the four lives on Tuesday.

As for Charles Slocum, crews will be back out on the water to look for his body. Classes for the Coast Guard Auxiliary meet twice a week for five weeks. This is the last scheduled session for the season.

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