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Durham Officials: Latest Death at Millers Pond Shows Need for More Coverage

Durham officials will send a letter to the state requesting more coverage of the state park following the latest drowning death last week.

 

Town officials agreed Monday night to send a letter to the state following the latest drowning death at Millers Pond State Park.

A week ago,  of Windsor died after being pulled from the pond by rescuers. While the cause of death remains under investigation, officials with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said last week that Wint is the at the state park since 2000.

"After our latest tragedy I thought about what the state perhaps could do better," Durham First Selectman Laura Francis said during last night's Board of Selectmen meeting. "The only think I could think of is if they increase their coverage of that state park with their personnel."

Francis said she did not believe the state had any intentions of designating the park a swimming area, a move that would require a lifeguard to be on duty. Signs at the park alert visitors that they are swimming at their own risk.

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Jim Libby, a volunteer firefighter in Durham and a member of the audience at the meeting, was asked to describe the scene of last week's accident.

"He was in about eight feet of water, at the most. About ten feet out," Libby said. "The 9-1-1 call until the time they got the kid out was 19 minutes. We got him out pretty quick."

Wint died the next day.

Libby said during the rescue he became upset at the amount of garbage left by visitors to the park. "There's just garbage everywhere, broken glass. It's just a mess," said Libby, who explained that dumpsters usually provided by the state had yet to be dropped off at the park.

Francis questioned whether having a full-time park ranger would have prevented Wint's death.

"Would it help? And maybe would it help with other issues that are up there, such as the garbage? I don't know," she said.

If the state were unable to provide a full-time park ranger, Francis said she might request coverage during designated times of the year when the park was most popular Once again, she said she did not feel that it was appropriate to spend the town's resources on "the state's responsibility."

Selectman Steve Levy supported the request of a full-time ranger, and said getting people to throw their garbage away might lead to better all-around behavior at the park.

"If you enforce one rule, then people might be more inclined to understand enforcement of another and that's only going to happen with an officer physically present," Levy said.

"I think it's worth a shot."

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