MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Minnesota woman is warning others to be careful and wear lifejackets while riding rivers, which may appear calm but can quickly turn rough and possibly life-threatening.

Ruth Lais, of north Minneapolis, said she thought the Cannon River would be gentle when she rode it recently with friends. At first, it seemed to be flowing fine. But after the group turned a bend, they found themselves flying down the river.

“We went from laughing to sheer terror in less than a nanosecond,” she said.

The tubes Lais and her friend were riding got caught up in a tree that had fallen in the river. Then the river’s fast-moving water came rushing over them.

“We were five feet from the shore and [the water] was over our heads,” Lais said. “I was so panicked I knew if I let go I wound have drowned. I just knew it.”

Eventually, Lais and her friend negotiated their way out of the Cannon. Lais said the experience shook her up badly.

Lais said the day she went tubing was the day after Welch Mill Canoe and Tubing reopened. The business had closed due to the heavy rainfall, which caused the river to rise and flow faster than normal.

Welch Mill’s owner, Ross Nelson, said there’s always a risk anytime you ride on the river or go into a body of water.

“It’s not a lazy river,” he said, referring to the Cannon.

But since Lais’ incident, Nelson said there haven’t been any other scares.

And although Lais is a confident swimmer, she said she have been wearing a lifejacket.

“No matter how docile the water seems, no matter how calm it seems, don’t underestimate it,” she said. “Because Mother Nature has its way.”


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