Fatal Drowning Shows Dangers of Public Water Access Areas Along the Mississippi River

lighthouse at boom island parkThe fatal drowning of six-year-old Isaac Childress III raises an important point about Public Water Access areas. Even if there is a sign saying Public Water Access, it may not be safe to swim.

Childress drowned after he was swept away by the Mississippi River current near Boom Island Park, in an area where the public has access to the river.

Isaac was on a bike ride with some children from his neighborhood and a married couple who also head a local nonprofit organization. They stopped at Boom Island Park and the children were allowed to wade in the Mississippi River. Isaac did not know how to swim. The drop off is quick in this area of the Mississippi River and the current is swift. Just a few feet from shore it is several feet deep.

Signs that only say “Public Water Access” do not specify if the current is too strong, making swimming incredibly dangerous, for children and adults. Even wading in the river can be too dangerous, and parents and adults supervising children should keep this in mind when deciding whether to allow children to swim.

TSR Injury Law Partner Rich Ruohonen represented the family of six-year-old Isaac Childress III in a wrongful death case against the woman responsible for supervising the children.

Isaac’s mother Dominique Alexander wishes the city had posted signs warning of the dangers of swimming in that area. Ruohonen said there was a sign in the area that said “Public Water Access” which can sometimes be interpreted by people as a safe place to swim.

Apparently, the City of Minneapolis and other governmental authorities usually only post signs in designated swimming areas saying it is safe to swim and do not post signs in these areas that are easily accessed by the public that are dangerous. Ruohonen believes governmental authorities need to add signs telling people when it is unsafe to swim such, “No Swimming” or “Danger Strong Current: No Swimming.”

“People just don’t understand the dangers of the river and it is incumbent upon governmental authorities to post warning signs to make a sure tragedy like this never happens again,” Ruohonen said. “There are several cases just like Isaac’s each year and they are easily preventable. We have to do more.”