FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — After a week of severe weather in Northwest Arkansas, authorities said a lot of swift water rescues could’ve been avoided.
That’s just dangerous, and then first responders go out there and then they’re in danger. It’s just a bad situation, so don’t do it.Sergeant Tony Murphy, Fayetteville Police Department
After a week of severe weather and more than 20 swift water rescues, emergency personnel want to reiterate just how important it is to “turn around, don’t drown”.
“It’s truly important because you don’t know what’s under that water,” Administrator of Public Safety for Benton County Robert McGowen said. “You don’t know if the roadway has been washed away.”
According to McGowen, several swift water teams around the county received several calls of people moving barricades and going through the floodwaters anyway.
“That’s dangerous not only for them but also for somebody that comes through and doesn’t know that road is blocked off and then gets into the water,” he said.
McGowen said it is a good rule of thumb to just turn around where there is water on the road, with or without barricades.
“Although you think it’s okay, it’s better to be safe and keep that saying in mind to please turn around don’t drown,” he said. “We don’t want anybody to be injured.”
Not only is it unsafe to move barricades, but according to Sergeant Tony Murphy, with the Fayetteville Police Department, there is also a statute in Arkansas Law that prohibits people from doing so.
“If they move that device and it presents reckless endangerment to human life they can be charged with Class D Felonies,” he said.
Both McGowen and Sergeant Murphy said it’s not worth putting yourself or others in that kind of jeopardy.
“That road is closed for a reason and we don’t want people driving down a flooded road.” Sgt. Murphy said.
This also puts first responders at risk, according to both McGowen and Sgt. Murphy.