Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Terror on the Mississippi

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Greg Peck
Thursday, May 30, 2013

I never have gone on a cruise. I’m not sure I like the idea of sitting on a cruise ship for most of my vacation, and news of recent accidents and fires—including the latest, a blaze Monday aboard a Royal Caribbean ship--isn’t doing anything to change my mind.

I’ve also thought about renting a houseboat for a family vacation on the Mississippi River. However, it’s not dubbed the “Mighty Mississippi” for no reason; those currents and locks and dams can pose hazards for the naďve and inexperienced.

Heck, this week’s near tragedy showed that not even experienced people are immune to risks. A family of nine was aboard a houseboat with two workers from the rental company when the motor quit upriver from Lock and Dam No. 7 near Dresbach, Minn. The workers couldn’t prevent the swift current from pulling the boat past the dam’s safety line, according to a story in today's Gazette written by Samantha Luhmann of the La Crosse Tribune. They helped passengers don life jackets and get in an emergency lifeboat, but the spare rig quickly filled with water and capsized, sucking the passengers under the lock’s roller gates and over the dam. One worker leaped off the houseboat onto the dam at the last second.

Amazingly, that worker quickly hopped aboard a safety vessel, and another boat captain came to the rescue, as well, and all those swept over the dam were plucked to safety.

I don’t think I’ll be renting a Mississippi River houseboat anytime soon. I’m sure that’s the last such trip for that family, too.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook

Last updated: 9:20 am Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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