ALLIGATOR POND, Manchester – Residents of this community, following the weekend drowning of a 17-year-old boy, have again warned visitors to stop ignoring the “No swimming” sign at a section of the beach they claim is dangerous.
The area, known as River, has been the scene of numerous drownings over the years, including two in the past week.
Wayne Watson, a resident and fisherman for 17 years in Alligator Pond, said a river empties into the sea and that locals have been warning visitors to use the river for recreation like swimming, but not to venture into the sea. On several occasions, however, their warning has been ignored.
“We tell the people to be careful how they go into the sea because it can be very rough,” he said on Monday.
“The water can be deep more time and when you talk to the people, they still are not listening. Don’t follow others like we [locals]. We can swim; we born and grow in Alligator Pond. From wah day the weather is kind of rough, and we talked to the people who come here to stay in the river but dem still nah hear. Last Monday we had to save about five people. One died on the way to hospital,” he added.
On Sunday Asafa Lowe, 17, a resident and mechanic of Endeavor district near Mile Gully in north-west Manchester, is suspected to have drowned at the dangerous spot.
A police report said about 2:30 pm Lowe and his friends went swimming at a beach in Alligator Pond when he reportedly got into difficulties and was seen sinking underwater.
Efforts to recover his body were unsuccessful up to late Monday.
This incident follows last week Monday’s suspected drowning of Canadian Treveno Sutherland, 23, at the same area.
A police report said about 5:30 pm Sutherland, a warehouse worker from Etobicoke in Ontario, and family members visited the beach. While swimming, Sutherland encountered difficulties.
Police said he was rescued by a passer-by who attempted to resuscitate him. He was taken to the Mandeville Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The Jamaica Observer was told that Lowe, who had relocated from his family home in Endeavor, near Mile Gully, Manchester, was working as an apprentice at a body shop in the Corporate Area.
“All now dem n’even find his body in the sea,” Watson said in reference to Lowe’s suspected drowning.
The local fisherman is hoping that the teen’s body will be recovered.
“A lot of people go and search for him. His body is not going to be found until maybe three days’ time because it takes a time before his body floats; but you might not find the body either, depending on how the current is going,” said Watson.
A number of people gathered at the beach on Monday, observed as Independence Day due to August 6 falling on a Sunday. Some of the beachgoers were aware of the drownings and said they were taking precautions by not going into the sea.
“People kind of scared to see the number of lives taken by this water,” said Watson.
He said the turnout at the beach in Alligator Pond continues to grow annually.
“Every year it gets bigger on this beach. We put signs on the beach. Some people see the signs and draw back from swimming,” he said.
Merline Henry, a beachgoer from Mandeville, said she enjoyed it there so much that she has visited the area twice in the past week. She said she witnessed two people being saved last Tuesday.
“While we were here on Emancipation Day I saw a lot of crowd running towards the sea, and when I really tried to understand what was happening it was two people the wave was carrying away into the sea. With quick help people saved their lives,” she said.
She urged people not to go into the sea but to instead enjoy the river.
“Because the river is much a safer place for us as a people, especially when we have children; we have to make sure that they are safe,” said Henry.
A resident and vendor in Alligator Pond who identified himself as Lil Ville suggested that more safety systems be posted at the beach, particularly on holidays.
“If you put up more lifeguards on the beach it would work out better,” he added.