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Niagara Sheriff warns of dangerous swimming in Niagara River

Undersheriff:"This whole area is not good to swim"
Posted at 10:13 PM, Jul 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-27 08:50:40-04

NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Niagara County Sheriff's Office and North Tonawanda Fire Department are continuing to warn about the dangerous of swimming in the "Little River." It's a part of the Niagara River known for heavy currents.

"Unfortunately, a tragedy like we had recently, is the kind of thing that brings this to light and a reminder to the public that the area is dangerous," Niagara County Undersheriff Michael Filicetti said. Earlier this week, dive teams spent more than a day searching for the body of a young man who went missing in this area on Tuesday.

"This whole area is not good to swim in, the Niagara River at all," Assistant Fire Chief Douglas Orlowski of the North Tonawanda Fire Department said.

Undersheriff Filicetti added, "Our biggest concern is the current and you getting pulled under." We went out on the Niagara County Sheriff's boat to experience the current first-hand.

"I would not be in the water here. There is way too much current to swim against," Assistant Chief Orlowski said while on the Little River. Undersheriff Filicetti says the heavy current is created when water upstream funnels down through the tight channel.

Both warn anyone out enjoying the water should have life vests at all times, even adding the most experienced swimmers have difficulty navigating these waters.

"They have to be highly trained, experienced divers to operate in this current. It's not like practice diving in a swimming pool. It's dangerous for the divers, as well," Undersheriff Filicetti said about search and rescue divers.

Aside from the heavy current--are the dangers boats present.

"You shouldn't be swimming in a channel where there is heavy boat traffic. I mean that's dangerous in and of itself without a current," Undersheriff Filicetti said.

Marine units are out patrolling as much as they can be in this area, forcing swimming out of this water, before it's too late.

"The fire company, law enforcement, nobody wants to respond to these types of calls. Our hope is that in getting the education out there is we can prevent another tragedy," Undersheriff Filicetti said.