Swimming concerns at Rend Lake

By Arnold Wyrick - bio | email

FRANKLIN COUNTY, IL (KFVS) -Two drowning's in less than two weeks have some people in Franklin County wondering if it's safe to swim at South Sandusky Beach on Rend Lake.

On June 30th divers found the body of 19-year-old Cantreal Brown in eight feet of water off South Sandusky Beach.

Then on July 9th 62-year-old Terrell Abernathy went into water and never made it out alive.

There are no life guards at the beach.

"It's a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers policy on the Corps managed facilities that we do not provide life guards," said Dawn Kavarik park ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"You are swimming at your own risk when you swim at our beaches."

But, the Corps of Engineers aren't turning a blind eye to the situation at South Sandusky Beach.

"We have what is called a 'Tree of Life', it has a pole and a ring-buoy on it. And we do water safety programs three times a day on Saturday and Sundays during the recreation season. We encourage kids and parents to learn how to use those devices," said Kavarik.

The Corps is also providing free life jackets to anyone who needs one at the beach and major boat ramps on the lake.

"If you need a life jacket we have them in all sizes, that are available free of charge that you can borrow for the day."

That is some comfort to many parents who use the life jackets for their kids when they're at the beach.

But, some parents say they are the ones who are responsible when it comes to keeping their kids safe.

"As a parent you should be out there with your kids anyway," said William Risinger of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

"So that you can make sure they are safe even if there is a life guard."

Some younger swimmers though feel that a life guard at the beach would make them feel safer when they're in the water.

"It would be more secure and we'd have more safety out there," said Brianna Crawford of West Frankfort, Illinois.

"So if somebody happens to stop breathing or something and would go under the water, then the life guard would be there."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is also out there everyday the beach is open with their patrol boats to make sure nobody is swimming outside the boundaries at the beach, and to make sure everyone is abiding by the regulations.

"We do have our ranger patrols that go through the area making sure that there is no alcohol at the beach, or any glass on the beach," said Kavarik.

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