NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KFTA) — The lives of many people have been lost in natural bodies of water across Northwest Arkansas.
Fourth of July weekend is always a popular time for people to dive into the local lakes, creeks and rivers, but officials warn that many people have died in local water and that precautions must be taken to stay safe.
Officials with area agencies said numerous Northwest Arkansas residents have drowned in recent years.
“We’ve had four drownings in the last three years,” said Capt. Josh McConnell with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
McConnell said two of the drownings occurred in 2017, one in 2018 and so far in 2019. McConnell said he hopes there will not be another in 2019.
Of the four drownings, three of them occurred in the Washington County side of Beaver Lake. The other drowning occurred in Richmond Creek, which goes into White River around Goshen.
Washington County Coroner Roger Morris also reported four drownings in the Washington County’s natural waters during the past three years. Morris also said a swimming pool drowning occurred.
The all-time number of drownings for Beaver Lake stands at 132, according to Chief Park Ranger Landon Thurman.
Thurman said the Benton County dive team searches the water every year for any potential hazards.
Thurman strongly recommends using a life-jacket when swimming in the lake, no matter how experienced of a swimmer you are.
McConnell said Washington County deputies will be on patrol at the War Eagle swimming area and Lake Wedington to help ensure safety. He said the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will also be keeping a lookout.
The American Red Cross offers the following safety tips for swimming in lakes, rivers and streams:
- Be sure you are water competent for natural environments before swimming – this is not your home pool!
- Always enter unknown or shallow water feet first.
- Watch out for currents, waves, and underwater obstructions – they’re not just found in the ocean.