CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A favorite swimming hole for some poses a hidden danger for others.
On Saturday, Fort Campbell Specialist Jabori McGraw became the second person to drown this summer at the West Fork of the Red River. Back in June, a 19-year-old also drowned.
Jessica Meyer lives close to Billy Dunlop Park and visits it frequently with her dogs.
“You’ll be down there kind of talking to people and hear, ‘Did you hear about that kid who drowned here last night?’ And it’s just a horrible realization as you’re looking around at this beautiful place,” Meyer said.
The River’s West Fork has a sudden 12-foot drop that can catch swimmers and floaters by surprise.
“You enter into the water and it’s knee deep, waist deep, and you start furthering out into the middle of the water, you don’t know that there’s that drop off there,” Assistant Chief of Operations for Montgomery County EMS Chris Proctor explained.
On occasion, currents also come through, adding another challenge for swimmers.
Meyer said she’d like to see a sign posted warning water-goers of the drop off.
“I think that’s something a lot of parents, myself included, don’t really understand about that area. I’ve seen a parent with their 12-year-old boy out there and say, ‘Hey, try to go down and touch the bottom. See how deep it is,” Meyer said.
News 2 asked the Parks and Recreation Department if they would consider adding a warning sign about this spot. They responded, saying the department already had swim at your own risk signs posted.
News 2 was able to locate two of the signs in Billy Dunlop Park that were hard to see and partially covered with vegetation.
At the end of the day, emergency officials say the best way to keep yourself safe in the water is by wearing a life jacket.
“When you get in that panicky state, things that you think are normal for you sometimes gets lost. And so I would always encourage you to wear your life jacket when you’re in the water,” Proctor said.
Proctor added that crews more often get called to Billy Dunlop Park for a different reason. Billy Dunlop is the last spot for floaters to exit the River before the Cumberland River, more than six miles away. He explained many miss the sign saying this or underestimate how long a 6-mile float takes.
To respond, crews also have to use either the Billy Dunlop or Cumberland River entry points. Recently, officials were able to secure new boats and equipment to help reach these individuals more quickly.