A 46-year old Manhattan resident was the second individual to drown in as many weeks at a popular New York summertime destination. Bear Mountain State Park is home to Hessian Lake, a lake which has claimed the lives of two New York City natives in the last month in spite of being “off limits” to swimmers.
There are signs in multiple languages around Hessian Lake forbidding swimmers entry; however, in both recent cases the victims entered the lake of their own accord. Tragically, neither came out alive. The first to perish was 16-year old Jean Fritz Pierre, of Brooklyn, who jumped into the lake during a class trip. Rescue workers were unable to revive the young man. Less than two weeks later, 46-year old Refugio Jimenez drowned as well after attempting to swim across the lake and back again. Jimenez was with a group of family and friends celebrating a birthday on the 4th of July weekend. A week later, wardens were out in force patrolling the waters and warning boaters and other visitors of the danger swimming in Hessian Lake presents.
Both of these New York drowning accidents were tragic but illustrate just how quickly a fun afternoon in the sun can turn into a life and death struggle. While the water looks safe enough and people have faith in their own abilities, drowning claims the lives of over 100 New Yorkers every year. Strangely, that number is very evenly split between “regulated facilities” (such as municipal pools, etc.) and “unregulated facilities” (such as the city’s rivers). This is a huge improvement over years past as official figures show that 10 years ago the number of New York drowning deaths was nearly twice as high. However, even one tragic death is too many.
Summer months are extremely dangerous for swimmers as the heat drives people to water. The New York Department of Health states that “the number of drowning incidents may vary greatly from year to year, which may in part be due to weather conditions. Nice weather increases number of exposure days for patrons.”
City and state officials warn swimmers to obey all posted warning signs and take the proper precautions (including using proper floatation devices) in order to prevent potentially deadly drowning accidents.