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The Pelorus Project: In Memoriam

Featured, Social GoodOlivia Ulch
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Fort Wayne is known for the three rivers that forge through the city making it the Summit City we know and love today. However, with this natural landmark comes many responsibilities as a community. Rooted in honor of a vivacious spirit, one local group is working to improve the quality of one sector of these responsibilities.

Promoting the establishment of public dam education, adequate warnings, and safety measures are the goals of The Pelorus Project.

"On June 23, 2015, Sean Hiebel and two friends were kayaking on the Maumee River. The three kayaked over the Hosey Dam and capsized. One of Sean's friends was pulled into the hydraulic action created by water spilling over the dam and Sean was able to pull him to safety. Tragically, this selfless act was Sean's last, as he was overcome by the same strong current he just saved his friend from. He and his friends were unaware of the dangers at dams." 

Creating the opportunity to multiply the benefits of this heroic act, and to prevent others from being unaware of dam dangers, Sean's family and friends seek to create an impact in the Fort Wayne area.

The Goals of The Pelorus Project:

  • Provide information and maps, at river access points, of the hazards one can face while on the rivers, and ways to stay safe.
  • Partner with government officials to implement a warning system including signs, buoys, and alerts on water conditions for Fort Wayne rivers.
  • Partner with Fort Wayne Riverfront Development team members to incorporate public safety in the development plan.
  • Partner with local river advocates to incorporate public safety in the development of waterway trails.
  • Partner with dam and hydraulic engineers to categorize, and prioritize low-head dams for targeted risk mitigation projects throughout Indiana.
Sean Hiebel, who inspired formation of The Pelorus Project. 

Sean Hiebel, who inspired formation of The Pelorus Project. 

How you can improve your safety around dams:

  • Keep your distance, carry kayaks and canoes around dams
  • Wear a life vest, no swimming
  • Be alert of changing river speeds
  • Be aware of low-head dams
  • Watch for high waters
  • Be aware of strainers
  • No fishing
  • No anchoring

Interested in following the works of The Pelorus Project? Give them a visit on Facebook or send an email to: pelorusproject@gmail.com. For more information on how to be safe on the water, take a look at the resources below. 

A few tips to keep in mind prior to taking the water

Gain a greater understanding of the water around dams

Discover the importance of being aware of low-head dams

Get to know Fort Wayne Rivers better

See an overall map of the trails and rivers that run through Fort Wayne, The Pelorus Project website has a great map that highlights boat ramps, places to carry down, and portage areas you can take a look at