ELKHART — Several people passing by the Main Street bridge in downtown Elkhart Wednesday afternoon called 911 to report a woman struggling against the current in the St. Joseph River.
Firefighters at the scene said the woman managed to pull herself out of the river shortly before they arrived at 3:09 p.m. on Wednesday, May 8.
These calls for struggling swimmers are common around this time of the year, said Shaun Edgerton, assistant chief of operations for the Elkhart Police Department.
“We probably get calls four or five times a year for that, especially early in the year when people want to get out and get in the water,” Edgerton said.
Many of the calls come from bystanders who see the swimmers and misinterpret frolicking for flailing, he said.
“They take the attitude that it’s better safe than sorry,” Edgerton said. “I’d rather them call and us not be needed than have a tragedy later on.”
While the water may look inviting as temperatures on land begin to rise, Edgerton advises swimmers to find another way to cool off.
Quick currents and sudden drop-offs below the surface can make rivers dangerous for swimmers.
“Please take care when swimming in waterways,” he said. “In this age of swimming pools and water parks there are better places to swim. Take proper precautions, like wearing life vests, and know your surroundings.”