RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The overseer of the James River Park system in Richmond is warning people to practice water safety after multiple agencies worked to recover a man’s body from the Appomattox River in Hopewell Wednesday.
Bryce Wilk, Superintendent of the Southern District of Parks Recreation Facilities, said over 2.1 million people visited the James River Park system in 2020.
That’s 180,000 more visitors than the previous year, he said.
The coronavirus pandemic led more people to pick up new hobbies outdoors, especially water activities like kayaking, canoeing and rafting.
“During this pandemic they saw this as well… ‘This looks like a healthy activity for me to go out, experience the outdoors, get some exercise and leave some of that stress behind,’” he said.
Wilk urged people to complete training courses online before heading out to the River.
Always bring a life jacket or floating device with you, wear proper clothing like a wet or dry suit for potential cold temperatures and notify someone of your activity schedule if you plan to go out in the water alone.
“Any time there is water involved it is still a hazard,” he said.
Virginia State Police Richmond Division Rescue and Search teams answered over 30 calls for service in 2020.