Siloam Springs Expresses Condolences, Mum on Safety

SILOAM SPRINGS, AR -- At a press conference Wednesday, Siloam Springs expressed condolences to the family of 16-year-old Evan Thomas who drowned at the Whitewater Recreation Park the day before.  

The city announced that the park's grand opening scheduled for later this month is cancelled, but they would not address potential safety issues. 

When asked whether turning the river into a park placed any extra burden on the city to provide for safety, Siloam Springs Public Safety Director Greg Neely refused to discuss the issue, instead saying that boy's family had the city's thoughts and prayers.

"This is not the venue in which we are going to discuss water safety. Right now, our thoughts and prayers are with the family," said Neely.

The park closed during the search on Tuesday, but reopened to the public early Wednesday morning. 

Although the city does not want to talk safety, veteran kayaker Dan Daniels addressed the issue.

"When I read about it, I cried because I have had so many good memories here, and now this is part of the story," said Daniels.

The experienced kayaker has paddled the white water at Fisher's Ford for two decades, and says the river demands respect.

"That's something that we need to learn from this. I think everyone needs to take a look at how they're using this facility," expressed Daniels. "This is a great place to learn how to kayak. This is a great place to learn how to play in moving water. But everyone should wear a lifejacket. Everyone should wear a helmet, but a life jacket for sure, and it's tragic and we have to remember that."

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