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Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: arodrigue@wwltv.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl

LIVINGSTON PARISH, La. - A 12-person trip down the Amite River Sunday, through Tiki Tubing in Denham Springs, turned tragic when 26-year-olds Josh Brantley and Phillip White went missing from their group.

Authorities later found their bodies half a mile from where they were last seen.

At Bogue Chitto Tubing in Bogalusa, safety is something the owners stress to all their customers before getting in the water.

They say, fortunately, it's something their tubers take seriously.

'If you've got kids or you're a non-swimmer or a weak swimmer, it's a no-brainer. Take a life vest,' said owner Tony Mizell. 'They're no extra charge.'

The business, one of the oldest in the state, also pushes big groups to have a buddy system in an effort to make sure no one is left behind. And they employ extra eyes on the water.

'We pay a deputy every weekend. We pay him out of our pocket and he don't harass nobody, he just comes down here if he sees something unsafe or somebody that's going to give a problem,'Mizell said. 'Hey, we just ask them not to come back.'

Bogue Chitto Tubing has recently invested in more expensive tubes to try to make the experience more safe. For instance, one prevents anyone from actually going through the tube. And both kinds have an exterior material that prevents the tube from deflating, even if its popped, so no swimmer is left abandoned without a tube.

Local law enforcement says water safety awareness extends beyond tubing too.

'Be mindful. Don't drink and boat,' said St. Tammany Sheriff's Chief Deputy Brian Trainor, 'Two, wear your flotation devices. Three, if you're pulling someone behind a boat, make sure the maximum length of that rope is 75 feet.'

Many say all it takes is common sense to keep fun on the water.

The investigation into what happened at Tiki Tubing is ongoing.

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