A spillway is a passageway in which excess water escapes from a reservoir, aka, or the like. Rosen was only thirteen years old. Four young boys that were fishing nearby In the spillway testified as witnesses. The boys told the officials that Rosen was climbing a fence near the gates of the spillway, but that they were not sure what he was trying to do. They said that they thought he must just be playing, but then he lost his grip and went plummeting into the water. The gates of the spillway had been open and the strong falling water and the pulling force was more than enough to keep him struggling under It.
The boys rushed to the side of the bank and did the only thing they thought they could at that point. They threw out their fishing lines in hopes that Rosen would grab the lure. The boys say that he got close to the wall and one of them was going to try to grab his hand. However, the current pushed him away before they could reach. What the boys were seeing was Rosen being fumbled around underwater. They told authorities that he got pushed down and brought back up about five times, but after that they didn’t see him again.
During all this the boys called 911 and shortly after, the officials arrived on scene. All four boys agreed that seeing Rosen being pulled out of the water was the worst art of it all. The Palm Beach County Sheriffs office confirmed that the victim did die in the hospital later that night. This horrible accident definitely has to make people wonder – What could have been done to prevent this? Why was the thirteen year old climbing on a fence next to the spillway? Did his parents know about this?
Did any of the children there that day have any knowledge about the dangers of the currents caused by the opened gates of the spillway? In fact, all these questions indeed make the story more heartbreaking. Chances are that the boys family did not know where e was at the time or what he was doing and that nobody could have seen this coming. Even so, the other boys could have been at risk as well. Officials tell us that the spillway Is a disguised danger because the surface of the water always looks calm. However, It Is the currents that travel at the bottom that are deadly.
Only three short months after the death of thirteen-year-old, Jeff Rosen, the same spillway took another victim’s life. This life was Lance Duffers. Rescuers say 23-year- old Lance Defect had been “winching” or “wake skating,” surfing along the top of the water on the gate. He was sucked into currents in the gate below, and was wedged into a ten-inch wide opening. Once the gates opened, he was pushed into a churning “vortex” of a current on the other side. Duffel could not get his head above pull him out by throwing the end of a Jacket out to him but there was no luck.
One of the witnesses even said that she would have Jumped in after the victim to get him out, but she knows how dangerous that would have been. She says that all that water forces a lot of pressure on you and she would not have been able to save the victim. Soon first responders arrived and actually got into the water. They eventually opened the gate and freed the victim but it was too late and the open gate almost claimed two more lives of the professionals. They were also sucked under the gates through to the other side.
They were pulled out of the water by police officers and then hospitalized. They are expected to be okay. However, Lance Defect was not as lucky. His body was recovered about ninety minutes later. Sadly ironic, on the same day as the Duffel’s accident, there were flowers on the fence near the water. These flowers were posted on the fence to memorial Jeff Roster’s death. It is such a tragedy that two lives were lost in the same place for the same reasons and because of it now two families are mourning. In fact, the families of Rosen and Duffel finally met months after the accident.
The Rosen describe their son as a “lover of life” and the Duffel family said Lance was always smiling. Lance was almost done with college, met a nice girl and almost had his Job. The 23 year old was Just getting started. Both families agree that if it could happen to their sons then it could happen to anyone and will happen again if nothing is done to stop it. What exactly needs to be done? One of the biggest complaints that the families and other people have about the area that the spillway is in is that there is no kind of warning.
By the bank there are no signs or anything that informs people that the spillway has a strong lower current that is strong enough to suck anything or anybody through it and not one has been put up since the last accident. In addition, there is no fence restricting activity in the water and with the spillway being close to a residential area, children are at very high risk of being hurt. The sister of Lance Duffel complains, saying, “If there was a lever or an emergency button that somebody could have pushed, that gate could have went up, my brother still could’ve been here”.
It is arguable that the State ignored putting safety features around the property of the spillway and that officials took for granted the curiosity of young people. The Rosen family hired an attorney to sue South Florist’s water management for no signs around the spillway but the state is safe from such lawsuits. But both families agree that some course of action needs to be taken place immediately before another accident happens. Although they do not compensate for the loss of life, some things are being done o improve safety. The South Florist’s water management assembled a team to work on safety at all spillways.
Also, Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue has run some drills at the spillway and even at Rapids Water Park to understand the force of the water and how to remain safe during rescues. Not be a huge step, but it is something. However, there are more things people can do to prevent things like this from happening again. For example, all parents and adults should take the time to educate themselves of their surroundings and what kinds of places are near their homes. In addition to that, the adults need to be educated about the places around them.
Then, after the adults know, they should teach their families about the location and tell their children not to go near it. The initial idea of this particular case that happened with the Rosen and Duffel families may automatically seem like the State’s fault and the Water Management’s fault, but by the same token, the parents have a responsibility too. Basically, it all comes back to taking the necessary precautions when you know what dangers lay ahead of you. Hopefully there will be no more people hurt from the quietly dangerous spillway and hopefully society has learned from these tragedies.