Recent Drownings Spark Changes At Gulfport's Dedeaux Park - - The News for South Mississippi

Recent Drownings Spark Changes At Gulfport's Dedeaux Park

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- There have been two drownings at Dedeaux Park since April. The latest was five-year-old Randy Soth During who died Monday. At Tuesday's council meeting, Mayor Warr and other city leaders agreed that it's time to make some changes at Dedeaux Park. 

"This is a spot that a lot of people know about and you can get to," says Gulfport Fire Chief Pat Sullivan.

Chief Sullivan says swimmers need to be mindful of the strong current, not to mention the fact that waters are filled with debris and dead trees.

"It's deceptive in that way that they think that there's no danger here, but anytime you are around water, there's danger," Sullivan said.

Since 2001 there have been five deaths at the park. The latest is the drowning of a five-year- old boy.

"It's a tragedy for everyone. It's a tragedy for the family. It's a tragedy for the people that witnessed that," said Sullivan.

Ashley Felder was one of those witnesses.

"It put a damper on the whole day just thinking about the family who lost them. There were about ten of them out here, and just what was going through their heads. And they're going to have to live with that for a really long time," Felder said.

Felder and her friends are at the park at least twice a week. She says while there are always plenty of swimmers, what the park lacks is supervision.

"The trash is still full. Nobody comes out and empties that very often. So we're all safe, it's just not as good as it can be," she said.

There's also no lifeguards and because of the narrow roads and big crowds, it's difficult for emergency personnel to get to the beach.

That's why this recent college grad has a lesson of her own for South Mississippians.

"Watch your kids and watch your friends. Don't leave it up to somebody else because once they're underneath, their gone," Felder said.

Next week, Mayor Warr along with other city leaders and first responders will go to the park to see what they can do to make it a safer place for South Mississippians.

The Mayor says right now there are no plans to close Dedeaux Park.

By Elise Roberts

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