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Fun in the sun can be dangerous

July 26, 2012
The Inter-Mountain

An especially hot and humid summer and occasional heavy downpours of rain have created the perfect setting for outings along the river. The traditional recreation in West Virginia isn't always safe, though, as was proven again this week.

Sadly, the swift rapids of the Tygart Valley River in Arden claimed yet another life. The body of 34-year-old Rodney Childers of Clarksburg was recovered Tuesday. The man was apparently attempting to walk across a rock when a current pulled him down.

The site, known as "Party Rock," is infamous for being as alluring as it is dangerous. It has claimed the lives of many who are unfamiliar with the river's swift rapids. Still, hundreds of people flock there on any given warm day to enjoy the scenic view and the cool water. Law enforcement officials say some of the visitors consume alcohol and illegal drugs.

In 2010, the Barbour County Sheriff's Department stepped up its efforts to patrol the area. The next year, the Barbour County Commission drafted an ordinance that bans alcohol possession and consumption at the recreation site. Since then, fewer incidents or death or injury have occurred; but the river's current still poses a threat.

Taking precautions in any outdoor recreational activity is always important. When visiting "Party Rock" at Arden, it's essential.

The American Red Cross offers these water recreation safety tips:

Always swim with a buddy.

Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of water. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous

Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and reduces the body's ability to stay warm.



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