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Recent drownings remind us it's dangerous to swim in local rivers

The Little Miami River as it passes through Clifton Gorge near Clifton, Ohio and John Bryan State Park.
Matt Kozlowski
Wikimedia Commons
The Little Miami River touches Hamilton, Clermont, Warren, Greene and Clark County, respectively.

Three people have drowned in local rivers this month — two in the Great Miami and one in Buck Creek.

Low head dams have made Ohio's rivers more hazardous in general but they can also be dangerous because of what's under the water. Rivers can be deeper than expected and downed trees and branches, or strainers, can trap people underwater.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says people really shouldn't swim in rivers in the state at all — none of them are designated swimming areas. If people do swim, they should wear a life jacket.

Jason Lawson, natural resources sergeant with the ODNR, said when he gets a call that someone is in danger on a river, it often turns into a body recovery instead of a rescue.

"If you come to a state park and you go to a designated area like a beach, those areas have been checked for hazards and cleared of them, Lawson said. "But with the river, everything's kind of unknown."

He said the beaches at Buck Creek and Caesar Creek state parks are both designated swimming areas.

Lawson also encourages people to only use coast-guard approved flotation devices in public bodies of water.

Chris Welter is a reporter and corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Chris Welter is the Managing Editor at The Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.

Chris got his start in radio in 2017 when he completed a six-month training at the Center for Community Voices. Most recently, he worked as a substitute host and the Environment Reporter at WYSO.