TWIN FALLS — Following the drowning of a 15-year-old girl this past weekend at Pillar Falls, deputies of the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office involved in the recovery process discussed the hardship that comes with facing these types of emergencies.
“When we’re working with family members and just among ourselves as we’re working to try and find somebody that has succumbed to the river, it’s an emotional toll on everyone that’s involved,” said Sgt. Ken Mencl of the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office.
To try and avoid another tragedy from occurring, the Sheriff's Office is warning people of the dangers that come with swimming in the Pillar Falls area. The currents and the overall depth of the water in some areas can range from 30 to 50 feet deep.
“The undertow here and the currents underneath the surface are very deceiving," said Lt. Daron Brown of The Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office. "They’re very strong and you don’t see that by looking at the top of the water. It can look inviting to swim in right here, but it really is not.”
Pillar Falls is also a popular area for swimmers and kayakers to explore, and the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office is encouraging people who are walking around the rocks to do so with caution.
“If you’re going to be walking around up here, the rocks are wet, they can be slippery, you can go in fast," said Brown. "Wear a life jacket around here. It’s just a dangerous area.”
Deputies of the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office are also trying to do their part and take other precautions to keep people safe. Some of this involves further water safety education and making contact with swimmers and kayakers in the area.
“We're working at working with other people to try and figure out if there is something we can do as far as signage at Pillar Falls to see if there is some sort of a sign that we can put up that warns people of the drowning risks, the dangers that are inherent with this area,” said Sgt. Mencl.
Although the Sheriff's Office would prefer nobody swims in the area, they still anticipate people to hop in the water to cool off.
“The best advice that I would give to somebody is that this isn’t the place I would bring my family to swim," said Sgt. Mencl. "If it’s not a place that I’d bring my family to swim knowing my skills and abilities, which are pretty good. I would think that my encouragement to people would be to follow suit and avoid it.”
For anyone who does go swimming near Pillar Falls, the Sheriff's Office would like people to do it in two locations. Either further upstream past the falls to not get caught in any currents. Or at the bottom of the falls where the risk is much lower.