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City Island swimmers at risk this summer - abc27 WHTM

City Island swimmers at risk this summer

Posted: Updated:
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Swimmers looking for cool relief along Harrisburg’s City Island beach continue to find themselves in hot water. Workers say at least eight people nearly drowned last week.

Wearing flip-flops, a bucket hat, sunglasses and a smile, Steve Oliphant lives his life around river fun. Last Wednesday evening, the owner of Susquehanna Outfitters said he witnessed several lives nearly slip away.

"About a 10-year-old boy got swept away by the current,” Oliphant said. “His aunt went after him to pull him out. Her boyfriend went after those two and the boy's father went after those three."

All four family members began flailing for help, according to Oliphant. He and his friend, certified lifeguards, jumped in and brought the woman and young boy to safety.

Oliphant said they both went back in and pulled the boyfriend and father to the shore. The father began to haze seizures moments later.

"Had he had seizures in the water, he would've been dead immediately," Oliphant said.

Emergency crews provided treatment and the family members survived.

Oliphant said a City Island Water Golf employee rescued others last week. Then, on Sunday, he said he helped save a father and daughter from drowning.

Oliphant said people continue to swim despite signs that warn against going in the water without a lifeguard on duty.

"Infancy...three or four swimming unsupervised the whole way around the beach on both sides of the island," he said.

Jackie Parker, the city's director of economic development, said the beach at City Island will be closed this season due to the condition of the Beach House and the limited funds for summer staff.

Parker said the city is working with several non-profit's and special interest groups to rehabilitate the Beach House.

Oliphant said he grew up on the water and tries to educate others regarding strong currents. City Island’s slender shape splits the downstream current to each side of the island.

Oliphant considers himself an experiences swimmer, but said even he cannot beat the currents.

"I tried swimming against the current,” he said. “I'm a certified lifeguard since '72. Inexperienced swimmers or an untrained swimmer wouldn't be able to swim against the current."

Oliphant said people should listen to the city and stay out of the water as to stay alive and not risk losing the natural pool spot forever.

"It's such a popular, beautiful spot to swim,” he said. “We're all hoping the beach will open someday soon."


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