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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Shallow water proves troublesome for local boater

  • “It’s a nice day for a boat ride.”
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  • “It’s a nice day for a boat ride.”
    That comment was made by a Hannibal firefighter just before climbing into one of the Fire Department’s rescue boats in the marina that was heading out on the Mississippi River in response to the report of a stranded boater south of Hannibal, shortly after 11 a.m. Tuesday.
    That was likely the same thought that went through the mind of Jerome Sebree of Hannibal Tuesday before taking his wife, young daughter and a friend out in a boat. Little did Sebree know their ride would be far shorter than anticipated.
    “I got the boat fixed and wanted to get out on the water, test it out and see if it’s riding good. We got by the bank back there and it’s really shallow, but you really can’t tell until you get back there, so we go back there and got completely stuck and stranded. We had to get the rescue out here,” he said.
    The initial Fire Department boat and crew of three was in the water by 11:04 a.m. After clearing the marina the boat headed south, since the initial scanner report was that the stranded boater had reported he could see Sawyer’s Creek from his location.
    The first crew of firefighters found the stranded boat, but could not provide assistance, according to Assistant Chief Sean Hampton.
    “The first boat got to where we could see them, but they were in such shallow water we couldn’t get to them in our boat,” he said.
    “They had to call backup, and backup had to call backup. It was a hell of a day today, man,” said Sebree.
    At 11:50 a.m., a second boat departed the marina with three aboard. At 12:04 p.m., a third boat, with one on board, left the marina and headed north before cutting over to the Illinois side of the river.
    Hampton explained what was happening out on the river.
    “We deployed a couple members of our swift water team in our Zodiac boat, which is more of a low-water rescue boat that we could use to get in closer to them,” he said. “At the same time the Highway Patrol’s water team was dispatched to bring a boat that they could get out in a little shallower water. Both those units arrived at the same time.”
    News of a potential river rescue brought to the riverfront Steve Golian and Paul Jones, who had been monitoring the situation on scanners.
    “I’ve lived here all my life,” said Golian. “This river has taken a lot of lives.”
    Page 2 of 2 - But not on Tuesday.
    “Everybody’s safe, although maybe a little bit chilly after being out there for a while, but they’re all in good shape,” said Hampton.
    “God blessed us and we got here safe,” said Sebree.
    All the boats, including Sebree’s, arrived back at the marina under their own power around 12:20 p.m.
    “I think it (boat) is all right,” said Sebree. “It’s riding funny, so I’ll have to get it back to the shop. I just got it out of the shop today.”
    Calls like Tuesday’s are not that uncommon, according to Hampton.
    “Boats get stranded out there from time to time, but this time of year, coming off the winter we’ve had, you get water that’s silted in there, and the sand and stuff builds up,” he said. “What was maybe a passage you could get through last summer may not be clear this year. Sometimes those areas are trial and tribulation until you find out.”
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