Barbour County Sheriff Stresses River Safety in Arden - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Barbour County Sheriff Stresses River Safety in Arden

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There's already been one close call in Arden when three people were stranded in the Tygart Valley River, and the Barbour County Sheriff's Department hopes that's as bad as it gets this year.

Barbour County residents know the area of the Tygart Valley River where the people were saved last week, and they know when they can get in, and when they can stay out.

"We usually try to come out here every day. I come out here a lot during the summer because it's a really nice peaceful spot to just hang out and get away from everything, but you can't come out here after it rains and try to swim, because the river is going to be too high and that's when people get hurt," said Andy Nicholson, an Alderson-Broaddus student who lives in the area.

While the Barbour County Sheriff's Department has made efforts to inform local residents, that's not the whole problem. Summer months bring people from around the state, but they don't understand how dangerous the river can be.

"Our concern is, the weather's starting to warm up, this is the time of the year college is letting out, school is letting out, this is typically the time we start seeing a larger number of people start coming to the river to enjoy it, and unfortunately, it also increases the number of incidents we have there," said Sheriff John Hawkins.

He worries more people may show up this year, since other popular swimming spots are no longer accessible to the public.

"When we started a heavy patrol in this area, it seemed to push people towards Pleasant Creek. So now that they can't swim there, we're afraid maybe that will push people back," Hawkins said.

And whether you're a local or from 5 counties away, Nicholson said everyone needs to be cautious when they're out on the river.

"If someone brings you down here that knows where they're going, they can show you where the safe spots are to get in and where you can't get in, because there's one spot like right here I can jump in and be just fine and swim around, I do it all the time. But if you try to jump on the other side of the rock, you're going to smash into the rocks below and hurt yourself," said Nicholson.

Hawkins said sheriff's deputies are looking for ways to discourage people from going out on the river. Signs posted along the river have been vandalized or destroyed.

The sheriff's department has been enforcing what laws it can, but it can only do so much short of closing the river entirely for everyone, including the locals.