Memorial Day weekend is a time to relax, spend some time with family and remember those who sacrificed their lives for the United States of America. Unfortunately, many weekend activities lead to injuries or in extreme cases, death. Family and friends in St. Paul, Minnesota are grieving the loss of a teenage boy who was swept away by a current while swimming in the Mississippi river. Efforts to find the 14-year-old boy were extensive and ended with the discovery of his body early Monday morning. The drowned boy in St. Paul has left many cautious of the Mississippi river and its usually predictable current, which was abnormally strong Memorial Day weekend.
The boy’s family and friends wish to see good come from this accident by warning that swimming in rivers can quickly become deadly. Experts mentioned that the Mississippi river’s current was abnormally strong on Memorial Day weekend, about five knots stronger than its average movement. The undercurrent swept the boy under, whose name is yet to be released until his family is notified and allows the information. The boy, his girlfriend and their friend were relaxing near the river and waded into the water to cool off, according to the two survivors. The boy had waded out to water that came up to his chest in attempts to reach a floating log, but lost his balance and was sucked under by the river’s intense movement.
People fall victim to river currents every year. With little ability to properly regain footing after being swept under, many perish in elusively strong river currents. Drowning, in any body of water, is the fifth leading cause of unintentional death in the United States. A large fraction of victims are under fourteen years of age, statistics say one in five people who drown fall into this category. Furthermore, almost 80 percent of total drowning victims are male. If proper precautions were taken drowning incidents would likely decrease and tragedies such as the recent boy in St. Paul on Memorial Day weekend would likely occur less.
The friends of the deceased St. Paul boy are on record commenting that the river may look nice, but in reality it is an accident waiting to happen. Their friend was wading out too far, went under in a blink of an eye and never resurfaced. It is believed that he could not resurface due to the extreme movement of the current that day.
According to a video on the Reno-Gazette Journal website, water safety begins with caution. Experts advise that if an individual wishes to swim or wade into a river he or she should wear a life jacket and never swim alone. They caution that if a river is moving, even just a few knots, do not attempt to stand up in the water. Also, if a person happens to be taken by a current and are capable of surfacing, he or she should attempt to swim to the edges. Swimming in a river is not entirely off limits, though there are many measures to take in order to swim safely without incident.
As the family and friends of the boy who drowned Memorial Day weekend in St. Paul know, this tragedy is too common. Drowning makes up a large portion of deaths in the United States and often times the incident is avoidable when caution is utilized. When swimming in rivers this summer, swim cautiously and sensibly.
By Courtney Heitter
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
FOX News Twin Cities
Twin Cities Local News
Twin Cities Local News (2)