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SF Reacts To Thursday's Tragedy



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On Thursday 28-year-old Lyle Eagle Tail of Sioux Falls and 16-year-old Madison Wallace of Vermillion jumped into the Big Sioux River to save her 6-year-old brother. On Friday and Saturday rescue crews recovered their bodies. And this accident is just one of many that has happened over the years at Falls Park, leaving some people asking for change.

It was one of many tragic events that have taken place at Falls Park. Six-year-old Garrett Wallace fell into the Big Sioux River, his sister 16-year-old Madison Wallace and 28-year-old Lyle Eagle tail jumped to save him, only to be swept away by the current. It was a rescue mission that quickly turned into a recovery effort.

"Normally there is a lot of people on the rocks, but you have to be careful. This is granite and granite gets very slippery when it gets wet,” said Sioux Falls Fire Chief Jim Sideras.

The two aren’t the first ones to have gone into the water. In September of 2005, two young boys were climbing on the rocks at Falls Park when they became stranded, and crews had to rescue them.

In June of 2009, an accident similar to Thursday’s occurred. An 8-year-old boy fell into the Big Sioux after he climbed over a railing to get a better look of the water. A 15-year-old jumped in, grabbed him, and brought him to shore. A 33-year-old man was there to perform CPR. In that case, all three survived.

"Almost all the times we are down here, is because has slipped and fallen into the water,” said Sideras.

With some close calls, and the recent tragedy at Falls Park, some said enough is enough.

Nicole Davis has lived in Sioux Falls all her life. She said she remembers too many accidents taking place at the falls.

"I feel like this sort of tragedy has happened a lot since in the time that I've been here. And unfortunately I don’t know what the answer is to fix it, but I do think the city needs to do something,” said Davis.

She said if it doesn’t come from city leaders, perhaps our state lawmakers should step up.

"Things like this are probably still going to happen, but it maybe would prevent some things if we had some legislation in place,” said Davis.

Jenae Minette said there’s a simple solution to keep people from getting too close to the water.

“I think it should be guarded off actually because there has been previous accidents there,” said Minette.

She said although she enjoys the falls being so open and unrestricted, there have already been too many lives lost. 
         
"Some kind of fencing, you know so people can see the falls, the water and the rocks, because it is a beautiful place,” said Minette. “But something to keep it more safe would be a good thing."

But Stephanie Holsing said no matter what city or state leaders decide to do, not everyone will abide by them.

"I remember when I was a kid, it didn’t necessarily matter what the laws said, what mom and dad said, or what the community said.  You know, you're going to do what you're going to do,” said Holsing.

“Just stay back from the falls,” said Sideras. “You can enjoy the falls, but you don't need to get up close to the falls.”

After the second body was recovered, Falls Park was quickly reopened to the public at 4:30 Saturday afternoon.
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