The Pelorus Project: Making River Recreation Safer

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. 

Area dams do not currently have adequate warnings or public safety measures in place. It is up to the public to become educated on the risks. 

Sean’s family and friends founded The Pelorus Project. By reaching out to safety experts and government officials we hope to encourage and promote initiatives to make our rivers a safer place for recreation and prevent future tragedies. 

We are working to make river recreation safer.

Our priority is to ensure that everyone who, like Sean, loves the rivers can enjoy them safely. One way we have already accomplished that is through publishing a map of Fort Wayne area rivers. We have also collaborated with other area organizations to install clear warning signs along the river ways.

Get Involved Now!

Keep Up

We post events and updates on our Facebook page. We also post updates, links to articles, and other helpful information on this site. Check out some of those articles below! Not seeing the post you were looking for? Click here to visit our archive.

WFYI Documentary: “Over, Under, Gone: The Killer in Our Rivers”

WFYI (Indianapolis’s local NPR & PBS branch) worked with us and others around Indiana to put together a documentary chronicling the dangers of low-head dams. You can check it out by clicking here. Thank you, WFYI, for putting this together and helping spread the word!

View Our Brochure

One of the first things The Pelorus Project team did was create a brochure that explains the dangers of low-head dams. You can download that brochure by clicking here. Feel free to share it with any river lovers you know.

Dam Safety Signage Installed on Fort Wayne Rivers

We collaborated with several other area organizations to create and install signage along the Fort Wayne area rivers. These signs warn people on the river of approaching hazards and direct them toward river exits to avoid those hazards. You can read more over at The Journal Gazette.

Over One Million Dollars in Grants for Indiana LARE Projects

We are excited to see that the DNR is issuing funds to help mitigate risks along our rivers. You can read more on Fox 59’s website, but here is the part we are excited about: “Two projects will remove obsolete low-head dams on Little River and the Tippecanoe River. Removing dams that serve no current purpose improves stream habitat and allows fish and other aquatic animals to reconnect to upstream areas. Removing dams also eliminates recreational hazards. Multiple drownings occur at low-head dams throughout the country each year.”

TRAILER: WFYI’s Documentary, “Over, Under, Gone: The Killer in Our Rivers”

Check out this promo for the documentary, “Over, Under, Gone – The Killer in Our Rivers”, premiering November 21 at 9pm on WFYI TV, Indy!

We have five basic initiatives.


Provide information and map, at river access points, of the hazards one can face while recreating 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 local river advocates to incorporate public safety in the development of waterway trails.


Partner with Fort Wayne Riverfront Development team members to incorporate public safety in the development plan.

Risk Mitigation

Partner with dam and hydraulic engineers to categorize, and prioritize low-head dams for targeted risk mitigation projects throughout Indiana.

Contact Us

Want to get involved? Want to know more? Simply fill out the contact form below and we will get back to you as soon as we can!