Popular spot for lake swimming can be dangerous

Popular spot for lake swimming can be dangerous

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Wilbert Vincent sees it every summer weekend.

"Sometimes you might have 100, 150 kids out there," says Vincent. "That is a lot of kids. they got their grills, they got their barbeque pits and they're having fun."

Hundreds of people packed the sandy strip near the Seabrook Bridge Sunday.

New Orleans Police say a woman waded with her 5-year old nephew when the child slipped from her grasp and headed for deeper water.

Witnesses told police the young boy immediately went under and didn't resurface.

He died at a local hospital.

It happened a little more than 24 hours after a 7-year old girl got into trouble while swimming in the same area.

She also died at a local hospital.

"From a pollution standpoint, the lake is safe," says Dwight Williams, executive director of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. "The swimming ability is what dictates it. if you're a good swimmer, it's as safe as anywhere else. if you're not a good swimmer, it's more of a challenge."

Williams says, while swimming is allowed in the lake, there's no designated access on the south shore.

The bottom of Lake Pontchartrain isn't like a flat, sandy beach. Williams says the water can go from knee-deep to over your head in a couple of steps.

In the murky water, Williams says it's impossible to see what lies ahead and the conditions can change in an instant.

"A sudden thunderstorm can come up and all of a sudden you go from a nice flat lake to rolling waves and if you've come in off the seawall and you went in and of course the seawall itself is treacherous because it's so slippery and it's full of barnacles but if you've got to get back out and there's two-foot waves hitting you from behind, that gets extremely dangerous too," he says.
Williams believes people need to be strong swimmers before going in lake and if not, have on a life jacket.

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