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Officials stress water safety - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Officials stress water safety

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BARNET, Vt. -

Folks who live along the Passumpsic River are stressing caution from its banks.

"Nine times out of ten my children are not down here unless I am with them," says Tricia Sanborn.

Wednesday, 22-year-old Zach Florio of Passumpsic went overboard along this stretch in Barnet and never surfaced.

"They did not have life preservers on and the male subject went under a short distance from the rocks behind me," says Capt. Tim Clouatre with the Vermont State Police.

State Police say the tragic turn of events serves as a stinging reminder about being careful along the water.

"We would urge people to use caution this time of year and to make sure that they are prepared for all the conditions that they may come across. And one of those is being safe and using life jackets," Clouatre says.

Water safety warnings are coming from the Coast Guard station in Burlington as well.

While temperatures on land were warming up this week, Lake Champlain was still a chilly 38 degrees.

"You don't want to be in there without hypothermia protective clothing, even in the Coast Guard we are still wearing our suits until it is well above 50 degrees," says Petty Officer Ian Nelms with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Petty officer Ian Nelms says life jacket or not, once you end up in the water this time of year, danger can be just minutes away.

"It depends on the person, their size but typically it can be anywhere from a few minutes to upwards of a half hour," says Nelms.

He says having a plan and playing it safe is your best bet to avoid trouble.

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