Think before you leapFolks throughout the area are still reeling over the terrible death of the 13-year-old who drowned in “The Deeps” of Duluth’s Amity Creek after jumping into storm-ridden waters, being sucked under by the torrential currents and swept out to Lake Superior.
Folks throughout the area are still reeling over the terrible death of the 13-year-old who drowned in “The Deeps” of Duluth’s Amity Creek after jumping into storm-ridden waters, being sucked under by the torrential currents and swept out to Lake Superior. Few among us will easily forget the tragic aftermath as recovery crews desperately searched for the boy’s body day after day, until it was finally located just off the shore of Lake Superior.
The awful incident should have been enough to keep people away from storm-swollen waters throughout the area, and yet sadly, it has not. As the high waters and fast-moving currents of the St. Louis River raged through Jay Cooke State Park last week, the railroad bridge and rocks along the Munger Trail were literally filled with young people awaiting their turn to jump.
A sign nearby states it is illegal to jump into or swim in the waters of the river and tells of the drowning death of a young person in that very spot a number of years ago who was swept away by the raging current. In the eyes of those young people, signs – and dangerous waters – are apparently meant to be ignored.
An amateur photographer captured one particularly heart-stopping moment at the bridge last week. A girl had climbed over the railing but appeared to be frozen in fear. Braver youths showed her how to do it, and other youths on the rocks below clapped their hands and chanted, “Jump! Jump!” She stood poised above the river, too afraid to jump but apparently too humiliated to climb back over the railing…
This sort of thrill seeking on the St. Louis River bridges is nothing new, and they have long been a summer pursuit of young people. The fact remains, however, that it is both illegal and dangerous within the park. According to Conservation Officer Scott Staples, he makes it a point to patrol that particular area as often as possible and has issued both warnings and citations to people he found jumping and/or swimming there. Staples called it “a huge safety issue.”
“Many people think they know the current in that river,” he said, “but if Minnesota Power should happen to open the gates of the dam, that could increase dramatically and wash swimmers down onto the rocks.”
The fine for jumping from the bridge or swimming in the prohibited area is $185 for adults. Juveniles will buy themselves a trip to court. Let’s hope no one ends up paying for it with his or her life.