UNO closes public access to Pontchartrain Beach

The University of New Orleans has shut down the area of Pontchartrain Beach where two teenagers drowned in the last few weeks.

The university leases the land where the accidents happened, and administrators say signs prohibiting swimming apparently are not enough.

"I don't think they should have it locked when we are here with the kids watching them," said Aubrey Delage, who was ready for a family day by the water.

Gates that usually close at sunset are chained shut until further notice because of tragedies over the past two months.

"We shut the gates locked them so there is no pedestrian access," said Mike Rivault of UNO on Wednesday.

On Monday, 17-year-old Shone Badone died after an accident while swimming with friends. More than a month ago, 17-year-old Bilder Lopez died when he went under the water at nearly the same area of the lake.

"People will walk out in waist deep water, then it's neck deep and then it's way over the head," Rivault said. "Swimming and diving has been prohibited for years."

Even with the signs and the gates, swimmers still find a way around the barriers. UNO is looking into extending the fencing into the lake. Rivault said contractors are looking into how they might extend the barriers into the water.

"Our lease with the levee district says it's supposed to be open and public access. Because of public safety issues, we can close it," Rivault said.