Falls Park Cleanup Begins
by Breanna Fuss, Reporter
March 18, 2013 6:07 PM
Just days after the tragedy at Falls Park, city crews are working as fast as they can to get the park back to normal.
On Thursday 6-year-old Garrett Wallace fell into the river. His 16-year-old sister Madison Wallace and 28-year-old Lyle Eagle Tail jumped in to save him. The little boy survived, but Madison and Lyle were swept away by the river’s current. City crews rushed to the scene for a rescue mission that turned into a recovery effort.
Madison’s body was recovered from the river Friday. Lyle’s was found just 24 hours later on Saturday. Now crews are left picking up the mess they made in their efforts to save lives.
Crews from Sioux Falls City Street Department are working as fast as they can in the freezing cold weather to put the park back together again. Street crews were called in on Thursday night and brought excavators to break up the ice on the river. And that heavy machinery has left inch deep ruts and broken concrete all over the park. But crews said the only thing on their minds was saving lives, not keeping the park intact.
“We are going to go out there where it is rutted up really bad. We are going to fix those ruts and put some black dirt down and then get some grass seed down so hopefully you can't even tell we were down there,” said Street Utilities Manager Galynn Huber.
Huber said Thursday’s tragedy at Falls Park left street crews doing a job they aren’t use to.
“Initially it started out with barricades, but in this particular instance with all the ice there, they didn’t have any way to get all that ice broke loose,” Huber said.
Huber said so when the call came in to bring the excavators, crews only cared about one thing, saving lives.
“When we drove it across, we tried to bridge millings over it, but we were in such a hurry, we wanted to try and get things done there,” said Huber. “So we ended up breaking up some concrete.”
Fifteen slabs of concrete will need to be fixed. Not to mention the removal of machinery and extra dirt that was laid to stabilize the excavators.
“We had to set up on a flat surface so that they were stable. So we had to bring in some clay, some gravel and some millings in so we could set up as close as we could to the bank,” said Huber.
But Huber said all the mess and the extra work crews put in, is incomparable to the tragedy none of them were ready to face.
“I think we have to sit back a little with our emotions because we aren't prepared for this,” said Huber. “We're prepared to go out and fill pot holes and push snow, we're not necessarily out there looking to recover bodies.”
Huber said their goal was to get things done quickly, so the families could get closure.
“We wanted to recover those bodies for the families. Cause I think that puts an end to it for them,” Huber said.
And now that they have, it’s time to pick up the pieces.
Huber said they plan on having the ground smoothed out and new grass seed planted by the end of the week. He said he hopes to have the park back to normal within a month so when it’s nicer out people can enjoy the park.