A 20 year old lost his life over the weekend while swimming at a popular spot in Somerset County. Now officials are sharing what swimmers should do in hopes of preventing a day at the river from turning deadly.
Sunday afternoon, Pittsburgh man, Jeremiah Thompson drowned at a swimming hole in Paint Township. Just one day later, people are out at the same location where Thompson lost his life.
“No, it’s not keeping me from swimming, said Johnstown native, Ian Kirby who frequently visits the location where Thompson died.
“I’ve never felt unsafe swimming in a river or any river as long as I’m with anybody else I feel as though I’m an enough of an experienced swimmer to win or survive. I’m not going to do anything dumb and get hurt so,” said Kirby.
Even for people who believe they’re a strong swimmer, water rescue instructor for the PA Fish and Boat Commission, Rickey Price says it only takes one time for conditions to change.
“You being in the water all the time, your skill levels up, but at any time, something can happen at any moment,” he said.
Something like a shift in the weather, can drastically change the water. Which is what officials say caused three water rescues to be performed at this same location last summer.
“But when it rains, the water is faster, deeper more powerful. It went from non-stagnant water to now class three, class four rapids. Look at the features that change all around in the situation,” explained Price.
Diving in after someone who is struggling in the water, isn’t always the best idea. Instead, Price recommends bringing along some simple equipment in hopes of preventing a deadly day at the river.
“That also could be a second victim also. So having the right equipment a simple life jacket to throw at him,” said Price. “A simple 75-foot throw bag you carry with you. You don’t have to enter the water, but I have safety devices I can use for shore based recuse to throw to my victim and pull him to shore besides me entering the water, not knowing what’s there and becoming a second victim in that situation,”