The Great Miami River has been the scene of many water rescues through the years. This was the scene in June, 2018, of a search for a kayaker who went missing. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Butler County Sheriff: ‘Being out on the water is fun, the river can be dangerous’

On Monday evening, there were two near-drownings on the Great Miami River, when a 19-year-old man had to be rescued after breaking his leg while fishing.

Earlier in the day, three citizens were involved in the rescue of an 11-year-old girl who was being swept down the river, her head going under the water. One man went into the river and turned back when he realized he couldn’t make the rescue. After a girl on the shoreline implored adults to help the drowning girl, two Hamilton women went in and made the save.

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Three days earlier, on Friday evening, a 15-year-old boy was rescued near Joyce Park. He was hanging onto a rope that was hanging from a tree.

A drowning happened in April at Acton Lake in Hueston Woods State Park, when a 65-year-old boater fell into the water.

Lt. Randy Lambert of the Butler County Regional Water Rescue Team said people who plan to be in the river, or other natural waterways, need to be cautious:

  • The river may look calm, but it is not.
  • Never underestimate the power of the water, or the strength of its currents. 
  • There’s unseen debris in the river, such as submerged branches and stumps, as well as rocks and other objects that can hook a person.
  • Never go into the river without some type of flotation device. 
  • There are many comfortable types of life preservers that can keep a person afloat while swimming to safety.

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones also offers a warning to those considering recreating along or in the river: “The boating and fishing season is upon us, and although being out on the water is fun, the river can be dangerous,” he said, adding that boaters should be wearing a life jacket while on the river.

Lambert said drowning incidents in recent years “have drastically gone down.”

Why?

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“My opinion would be it’s video games,” he said. “The younger population, which used to be most of our drowning victims — I would say pre-teen, teen years and young adults were the ones who were drowning. They were in the river to entertain themselves.”

“But just like kids on bicycles anymore, you just don’t see them a whole lot,” he said.

“The drownings have really gone down,” he said. “Now, we’ve pulled bodies out of the river, but those have been suicides — not accidental drownings.”

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Ed Richter contributed to this story.

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