TAHLEQUAH, OK -- The Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission is investigating an Illinois River tour company after almost 40 people had to be rescued Wednesday on the river in Cherokee County Wednesday.
The National Weather Service in Tulsa on Tuesday issued a flood warning for the Illinois River near Tahlequah in Cherokee County and near Watts in Adair County.
Ed Fite, director of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission, says Falcon Floats was warned on Tuesday and Wednesday about the dangerous conditions. But Fite says Falcon Floats was putting customers on the Illinois River when it was at 12' with a flow of 16,000 cubic feet per second. The Illinois River's standard flow rate is 300 cubic feet per second.
Fite says the higher the flow rate, the stronger the power of the river and the pressure it brings to bear on canoes and other flotation devices.
The Illinois River Volunteer Fire Department used its airboat to rescue boaters on the river Wednesday. Fite says the fire department has sent Falcon Float a $500 bill for those rescues.
The Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission is conducting what it calls an administrative review of Falcon Floats. As part of that review, the commission says it will turn over information about the company's problems to the Oklahoma Attorney General's office by Friday.
Fite says the administrative review is expected to take 30 to 45 days before a decision is reached on whether to revoke Falcon Floats' license.