Wintry warning

By Chris Collins January 08, 2014 09:25 am

Concern About Kids Walking On Frozen Powder River 


S. John Collins / Baker City Herald People have walked almost to the edge of the ice on sections of the Powder River in Baker City.
S. John Collins / Baker City Herald People have walked almost to the edge of the ice on sections of the Powder River in Baker City.

By Chris Collins

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The slick film of ice that coats the Powder River as it winds its way through much of Baker City has attracted the attention of youngsters looking for wintry entertainment.

The activity has caused alarm for some of the community’s adults.

Maybe it’s a recent holiday viewing of “It’s A Wonderful Life,” that causes them concern for the children who are participating in the risky sport.

Who can forget the sledding party in the movie when George Bailey’s younger brother, Harry, slides over the ice and breaks through to water at the end of the trail. Big brother, George, comes to the rescue, but in the process suffers from the cold of the icy waters and loses the hearing in his left ear.

Later in the movie, when George is given a glimpse of the impact his life has had on others, he sees that 9-year-old Harry would not have survived his plunge into the water without 12-year-old George there to save him.  

A similar scenario, perhaps without the happy ending, could play out on the Powder River this winter for those who walk over it confidently while water flows swiftly under the ice, says Baker City Police Chief Wyn Lohner.

The issue was brought to his attention by a teacher who lives north of Campbell Street near the river and has watched kids playing on the ice and sliding toward the flowing  water this winter.

“Even if the water is only two feet deep, they’re taking a chance of the current carrying them down river,” and possibly under the ice, he said.

“We want to remind parents to talk to their kids about the danger and for kids to be aware of it,” Lohner added. “There is no safe time to be on ice on a river.

“With water flowing underneath there’s no consistency to how thick it might be and the current might carry you under.”