Tulsa Retention Ponds A Dangerous Place For Kids To Play

Wednesday, May 6th 2015, 6:42 pm
By: News On 6

With all the rain we've received lately, creeks and retention ponds are filling up with water.

The areas can be tempting, but also deadly for kids; the city of Tulsa even sent out a Tweet Wednesday warning parents to keep their kids out of the ditches and creeks.

The areas are there to keep rain water from flooding our homes and streets; they're not there for kids to play in.

Alyssa Smith said she played in Coal Creek when she was a little girl, until she lost a friend.

"I mean it's something we just did for fun. I didn't think it would be dangerous," Alyssa Smith said.

Four years ago, Smith's childhood pastime turned deadly when her friend, 14-year-old Dario Hogan, was swept away by the water.

"It had stopped raining by then, but the water was still really, really high in the creek and, I mean I could see it from my backyard," she said.

Crews searched for Hogan for two days before finding his body a mile and a half down, trapped in debris.

"It was hard for a lot of people, his friends and family, it was just really hard."

Tulsa Fire Rescue Coordinator Captain R.B. Ellis trains firefighters in emergency techniques, like trench rescue training. Ellis also does swift water rescue, and said waterways can be deceiving.

"Storm water management systems are designed to get water out of town as fast as it can, so it collects it, moves it and gets it out of town. So the pressures that are being generated by this water moving out of town are enough to knock you off your feet, they're enough to float a car off of the tires and downstream. There's just a lot of force generated when water is moving," Ellis said.

The water flow is just one problem. Another hazard is strainers, or objects that water can pass through but people cant.

"So you can see on the downstream side of that bridge, you can see where the trees are, where the limbs are; it doesn't look like much, but that water is going through it and it would be the same as getting your ankle caught in a rock,” said Ellis. “If you were to get up against a strainer, water is going to push you up against the strainer and you're probably not going to get out of it.”

It's something Smith said she never thought about then, but hopes kids are thinking about now.

"I guess just be careful, I mean you don't realize, I mean, how dangerous it can really be," she said.

Ellis said water traveling at just three miles per hour has the same force as an EF-1 Tornado.