City Officials React To Falls Park Death

Sioux Falls, S.D. – More reaction stemming from the 3rd drowning at falls park since 2013, with city council members coming up with possible safety solutions.

“That foam is the deadliest part.  So we need to address this area in the spring when that is the most predominant,” says City Councilwoman Theresa Stehly.

On Sunday, five-year-old Maggie Zaiger from Audobon, Iowa became the third drowning victim at falls park in the past 5 years.

Councilwoman Stehly wrote an open letter to Mayor Mike Huether and his administration about her ideas to make the falls safer.  Her main focus is trying to remove the foam.

“Once someone falls in with the foam there, you can’t get them, they’ve disappeared.  So in the summer time when that water is clear, we have a better chance at rescue efforts.  The foam is like certain peril,” says Councilwoman Stehly.

But Director of Parks and Recreation Don Kearney says there isn’t any action that can be taken to stop the foam from forming.

“We’re not aware of any process that would eliminate the foam that occurs in the falls.  It’s really a product of the phosphorus in the water in the Big Sioux River and the agitation that it creates when it goes over the falls,” Director Kearney tells us.

Another idea that Councilwoman Stehly has is installing temporary fencing at falls park.

As KDLT has previously reported, the city did consider adding fences at falls park in 2013, but decided against it.

They thought fencing would delay public safety crews’ response time if an incident happened.

Director Kearney is open to bringing back that idea, but there are questions first that need answering.

“Where do you put the fence?  How high is it?  Who’s going to monitor people from getting over the fence or through the fence? So there’s just a lot of factors that go into whether or not that’s a good idea,” says Director Kearney.

Director Kearney says city officials have not met to discuss safety changes at the falls, but expect those meetings to take place within the next two to three weeks.

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