August 11th, a day that marked the hearts of many Casper Residents. "In that one spot it seems like about once a year we have someone die there and Alex Cressy should be the last," Casper Resident Troy Bray said.
8-year-old Rhys was playing alongside his 11-year-old friend Alex Cressy when the current of the North Platte swept Rhys out into the river. "I was the one that got caught in the current and I got caught in the current too far and he tried to grab me and pull me back, but he got caught in the current. He wanted to save me, so he would give his life away for me," Rhys Bray said.
Cressy’s body was found 3 days later. The death of the 11-year-old boy has hit the community and sparked a fire for stricter regulations. Certified White Water Raft Guide Ryan Perry says, “I think that we need to see mandatory life jackets and it's essential that we've come to that point," while Rhys agrees. "I think you should wear lifejackets if you get in that river."
One of the features Casper residents want to see in the white water park is a throw rope. A safety feature that works like a pendulum by swinging you out of the current and into the shore.
"They're very user friendly and that's what the big thing is. Not every person will be an adult down there that's going to be able to rescue. We've got to be able to have the kids rescue themselves," Perry said; and he knows from a first-hand experience this safety feature saves lives.
"I’d actually been to the point where I was almost out of air and you see the white dots nearing the end and that's when I threw my hand up and a throw bag was thrown at me from my sister and I wouldn't be able to be here to tell you unless that happened," Perry said.
However, for some the river will never be safe until the man-made rapids are removed. "Taking it out will make a big impact fairly quickly. Anything less than that is hoping a passing stranger steals a kayak to come out and save your kid," Troy Bray said.