Dangers of Swimming in Irrigation Canals - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Dangers of Swimming in Irrigation Canals

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KENNEWICK, Wash. - It may be natural for young people to swim in irrigation canals, but rescue divers said kids are taking a big risk.

Irrigation canals. some kids love 'em. They're close to home, they're free, but experts said children don't understand culverts and canals are not built to play in, and a quick dip can cost you your life.

Mark Allen has roughly 23 years experience with Columbia Basin Dive Rescue. He helped pull out the body of 13-year-old Taylor Loch from a popular spot called "Beer Falls" Sunday night. Monday, six feet away is about as close as Allen would come to the culvert that claimed Loch's life.

"If I went in there now.  I'd have to have help getting out, even right here in the face of the mouth," said Mark Allen, Columbia Basin Dive Rescue.   

The water looks peaceful enough. But Allen said as water funnels into the culvert, currents move fast. If you get caught on debris, the force of water will keep you under.

"You can see a lot of bolts and re barb down further.  There could be rocks down in there and once you're on your way, you can't back out," said Allen.   

Representatives from the Kennewick Irrigation District said they recognize the danger culverts and canals pose to young swimmers. And they said they're are just as concerned as worried parents.

"Safety is a huge part of the Kennewick Irrigation District. You know in our field operations department we look at that all the time. It's not something we review once in a while. Safety is always something we're looking at," said Beth Smith, Kennewick Irrigation District.   

K.I.D. and Dive Rescue warn swimmers - Don't risk getting in the water.

"It looks like a lot of fun, but its very very dangerous. You can get trapped up on anything and that's it," Allen said.   

Allen also said one big reason accidents like this occur is peer pressure from friends.

Allen advises, just like drugs and alcohol, he warns kids just say 'No'.

 

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