Friday, July 19, 2013

DANGEROUS WATERS

A sandbar runs alongside our island. At high tide, it's invisible. At low time, it entices tourists to go out with umbrellas and beach chairs to enjoy the ocean.

What they don't know is that when the tide turns, the sandbar becomes a trap. The tidal pool they waded through or the wet sand they walked on to go out onto the sandbar, quickly changes to a rapid current of water when the tide comes in, a current that can carry strong swimmers away. Unfortunately, it's happened several times in the few years we've lived here.

Like a fourteen-year-old girl in 2010. Her mother and young sister made it to safety, but she didn't and was lost. And last year, a soldier and his family were out on the sandbar. He got them to shore before being swept away, though his body was later recovered.

Now it's happened again. As I wrote Monday about the lovely beach and how we enjoyed living here, searchers were out. A teenager who'd been out with a couple of his friends to play in the ocean had been washed away. This time was a little different because the tide wasn't coming in. He simply stepped off the sandbar on the ocean side into a drop off and never resurfaced. That happened Sunday. His body was retrieved a couple of days later and his funeral will be tomorrow. His friends, fortunately, were rescued by a kayaker who gave them life jackets and towed them to safety.

Strangely, the police chief was already on the County Commission's agenda for last night, to ask for funds to post warning signs and put an emergency response center beachside. It passed, of course, as it should have after another tragic drowning.

What I don't understand is why it's taken so long to get this done. There are lifeguards between certain hours, but there is nothing to warn people that the sandbar isn't safe, that the tide is unpredictable and dangerous. I remember a proposal to put red flags out whenever a rip current threatens, but that never happened. I wonder if it's because the authorities were afraid of discouraging tourists?

So we've lost another person, a fine one from all accounts. He would have been a junior this year and was in the Navy Junior ROTC program. Everyone agrees he was a quiet, likable young man whose too-young demise leaves his family and friends griefstricken. My heart goes out to his mother.

Maybe he would have stepped off into the ocean anyway, even with a series of signs and in full knowledge of the dangers. But maybe he wouldn't. I find it hard to understand why it's taken so long to get warning signs and a rescue station set up.



4 comments:

  1. Nature can and does have a way of being unforgiving. It doesn't suffer fools. It's a shame that it took that long to take action.

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  2. Why does it always take loss of life to make things change?

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    Replies
    1. It's taken several lives in the past years to get to this point! Some people don't like to face up to what needs to be done!

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