GRDA authoriites stepping up patrol with jet-powered kayaks

Posted at 6:29 PM, Jul 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-01 21:51:52-04

TAHLEQUAH, Okla.- The Grand River Dam Authority officially took over responsibilities at the ever-popular Illinois River today. 

It's making quite a splash with some new beefed-up equipment. 

It's out with the old, and in with the new as GRDA takes over river patrol, long performed by the former Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission. 

But when it comes to their mode of transportation, consider this just an upgrade. 

"These have a jet drive motor in them, said GRDA Police Captain, Bill James. 

Kayaks...with a little muscle. 

With maximum speeds of fifteen miles per hour and eight miles an  hour upstream, they can glide fast than any canoe or current. 

"It makes it a whole lot easier to get to places that we're never been or get before," said James. 

"It'd definitely release a lot of anxiety, knowing like, did I miss my stop where I'm supposed to stop? You can't paddle upstream if you get in a bind.' said kayaker Shelby Morris. 

GRDA says they'll be using the jet power this July 4th weekend to help keep an eye on thousands of floaters, making their patrol as proactive as possible. 

What we're hoping is that by getting into places we couldn't get to before, people will know up and down the river," said James. "The visibility alone will curtail some of the problems."

So yes, they're guaranteed to turn heads.

"I really want one of those! Gonna go build one." said Morris. 

But rangers hope they'll add some much-needed safety to the Illinois River this weekend. 

"People want to come over and have a good time and we want them to have a good time, but we want them to go home at the end of the weekend or their stay and get home safe," said James. 

"It'd definitely save a lot of lives," said Morris. 

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