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Terror on the Mississippi

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Greg Peck
May 30, 2013

I never have gone on a cruise. Iím not sure I like the idea of sitting on a cruise ship for most of my vacation, and news of recent accidents and firesóincluding the latest, a blaze Monday aboard a Royal Caribbean ship--isnít doing anything to change my mind.

Iíve also thought about renting a houseboat for a family vacation on the Mississippi River. However, itís not dubbed the ďMighty MississippiĒ for no reason; those currents and locks and dams can pose hazards for the naÔve and inexperienced.

Heck, this weekís 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 couldnít prevent the swift current from pulling the boat past the damís 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 lockís 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 donít think Iíll be renting a Mississippi River houseboat anytime soon. Iím sure thatís 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



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