Water Tragedy Lurks

Click to see original imageWherever there’s water especially deep or swift water – tragedy lurks. Every year here in Utah many people lose their lives through drowning. Irrigation ditches, rivers, lakes, ponds no matter how harmless – appearing – all have a potential of claiming lives when people let down their safety guard. Sometimes what starts out as a pleasure trip or an innocent swim or boating excursion suddenly changes to a scene of panic and tragedy. Here in Central Utah there are many miles of irrigation ditches ranging from wide, deep canals to narrow ditches. Even a “little ditch” can become a death trap for a child. Tragedy narrowly was averted in Orem Thursday when the 7-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. James Walker of 890 N. 10th E., went around a safety fence and slipped into the Murdock Canal. The stream, even though not at full volume this early in the year, swept the youngster downstream something like 200 yards. A neighbor, Carl Bailey, alerted by the boy’s cries and shouts of his brother, ran to the rescue. Except for his prompt action it is quite likely the incident would have resulted in tragedy. In this case, the family had been aware of danger and built a chain link fence. Even so a child – as youngsters will circumvented the barrier and was unexpectedly overwhelmed by a big stream of water. The Murdock Canal is especially dangerous because of its size and volume of water and the fact that the stretches of concrete banks get moss, slick and. difficult to cope with. But its’ only one of many streams potentially hazardous. Utah Lake, usually fairly tranquil, can become choppy and hazardous when the wind comes up – and that is quite often. The same might be said for other lakes and reservoirs. The Herald urges a greater public awareness of water danger – and action that will minimize the hazard. We wonder also, if there would be merit for some public body – perhaps the county commission or the Council of Governments because of their scope – to appoint a special safety committee (If one d0esn’t already exist) to investigate the problem, identify areas, and recommend solutions. Some cities have taken steps to have subdividers cover ditches in the proximity; fencing might be in order in some cases and should be encouraged. But there ought to be a broad approach to develop consistent policies, work out methods of financing, and carry on an educational campaign for safety. We’re moving into the water season. The everpresent hazard calls for a broad and serious approach. With concerted effort, tragedy CAN be prevented.