Platte County warns of dangers in rivers and lakes

LINCOLN, Neb. Nebraska rivers may appear to have calmed down in the months since the major flooding but they've already been deadly.

River water in Platte County

With so many ready to hit lakes and rivers this Father's Day weekend there are still dangers under the water.

Since March, the water in the Loup and Platte Rivers have gone down and slowed down, but it’s still unpredictable.

“Veterans of the area tell me that they won’t go on the river this year,” said Tim Hofbauer, who is the Director of Emergency Management for Platte County. “They know from previous floods how rivers can change and how new channels can open and all of that.”

Three people have died in waters around Columbus in the last three weeks.

Genoa firefighter Brett Swantek went under while kayaking, his body found a week later.

19-year-old Nicholas Rodriguez drowned trying to save his friend from Lake Babcock.

This week, crews recovering the body of 18-year-old Bryan Montenegro Gonzalez, he was last seen in the Platte River.

“There’s been a lot of scouring on the bottom of the river, there’s new channels that have formed, sand bars have moved, there’s been a lot of holes that have developed,” said Hofbauer. “Some of the holes have debris in them, there may be tree branches in them, there’s still missing vehicles so we just don’t know where some of the debris is."

Chris Bartholomew grew up around Columbus and the rivers.

She says this time of year she would be kayaking to and from her house on the river but says she won't be venturing on the Platte anytime soon.

'The tree trunks alone are heavy, large with roots,” said Bartholomew. “The river changes its course, its channel, its deepest part, you could always see that as a child, now it's hard to follow."

If you do plan on going in any river or lake this summer, officials do advise that you always use a life jacket and to never go alone.