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DNR Officials Encourage Drowning Prevention Education Along "Risky Rivers"
Updated June 20, 2018 7:02 AM
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(COLUMBUS) - In the last few years, three people have drowned along a "risky river" in Columbus. Now, officials are asking Hoosiers to be prepared when visiting waterways.

On Saturday morning, the body of 6-year-old Brendan Sperry was recovered after he was swept away by waters and drowned. He was playing on a sandbar in Mill Race Park with family members when the quick current became too much.

His tragic death is hitting the community hard.

The area where the boy drowned is where the Flatrock River combines with other bodies of water to form the White River. DNR Officials said the waters there can be very strong.

"Any river that you come to that has moving water, you're going to be at risk. That one particular spot right there, it has a little bit stronger current than the average," said Cpt. Bill Browne told Shannon Houser of Fox59 News.

The death of Brendan isn't the first tragedy on what officers consider a "risky" river.

Last March, 33-year-old Jackie Watts drowned in the same body of water while trying to rescue a dog. A few years before that, a kayaker died in swift moving currents after a heavy rain.

"If we get a significant rain, it's going to increase the amount of flow," Cpt. Browne said.

Officials said park goers can still enjoy rivers like this one, but need to be prepared for everything that comes with unpredictable conditions.

According to statistics from the DNR 2017 drowning report, 114 people drowned in Indiana in 2017. Most drowning deaths happen in June and July. The average number of people who die in rivers and creeks in Indiana per year is 17.

DNR officials encourage Hoosiers to use this rescue techniques: Reach, Throw, Row, and Go.


Extend a fishing rod, branch, oar, towel, or other object that can be used to REACH out to the victim and pull him or her to safety. If nothing is available, lay flat on the dock and grab the victim's hand or wrist, and pull him or her to safety.


If the victim is too far away to reach and a boat isn't handy, THROW the victim a PFD or anything else that will float.


If a rowboat is available, ROW to the victim and then use an oar or paddle to pull the victim to the stern. Let the victim hold onto the stern as you paddle to shore. If the victim is too weak, hold onto him or her until help arrives. If using a powerboat, stop the engine and glide to the victim from the downwind side.


Swimmers without lifesaving training should not swim to a victim. Instead, GO for help. If you must swim, take along anything that floats to keep between you and the victim.

For more information, click here to view the 2017 drowning report.

Information Fox59 News -

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