Tragic Mississippi drownings spark urgent safety reminders for Memorial Day Weekend

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 7:29 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Three people have died swimming in rivers in Mississippi in less than a week, including one man in the Pearl River Friday. With all the warm weather on the way, many of you might be ready to get in the water to cool off.

However, before you decide to jump in this water or any this weekend, you need to follow a few safety measures. Just a few minutes could be the difference between fun on the water and a horrific day.

“Just last week on the Pearl River, watching Marcos’ wife on the creek bank of the Pearl River kneeled down at the edge of the water with tears rolling out her face for four hours straight, knowing that her husband was down there deceased. That’s a heartbreaker for us,” Rankin County EOC Director Mike Word said.

It’s been three days since 24-year-old Marcos Mendoza’s body was recovered from the Pearl River in Jackson.

Today, two teenagers were recovered from the water after drowning in a South Mississippi river.

With more people expected to be on the water this Memorial Day Weekend, law enforcement is offering some reminders.

“Life jackets are definitely the most important thing to have in the vessel with you when you’re on the water. The majority of the acts of the deaths resulting from boating accidents are people falling into the water,” Zachary Smith with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Park said.

Chief Trevell Dixon with Reservoir Police says you should be smart if you’re going to be drinking on the water.

“You really don’t want to consume alcohol. But if you do, you want to make sure that you’re able to function and make sure that you’re able to make the right decisions that won’t put you or anybody else that you’re with in danger,” Chief Dixon said.

What if you’re just planning to swim in a creek or river?

“The current moving slow to three miles per hour can still be a lot more current than you think,” Smith said.

“You may look at a surface of water, and it may seem calm or moving slowly. But once you get to that undercurrent, the undercurrent may be strong enough to where it may take somebody downstream,” Dixon said.

But whether you’re going out on the Rez or swimming in your nearby river this weekend, law enforcement says they’re ready to help you and your family stay safe.

“Chances are, it’s gonna happen this weekend, which is why all these guys are here, checking all these boats and making sure we’re full of fuel. We are ready to go,” Word said.

Now if you do take all of these precautions and still find yourself in a situation where you’re in the water in a bad situation, law enforcement says: DO NOT PANIC. It could save your life.

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