Selectmen: 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."

JBS April 24, 2012 at 11:20 AM
They had a full time ranger there for the summer time a few years ago, even had a trailer parked inside the park right at the fork in the main entrance trail. He did a great job and was very effective in keeping the alcohol, cliff jumping and most of the other various potential problems to a minimum. The attendance at the park was much less and it clearly seemed his presence made a big difference. I believe with the state cutbacks that the position was eliminated. I, as an avid user of the park , saw a tremendous difference with Jim on duty.
JBS April 24, 2012 at 11:23 AM
Meant him not Jim, I can't remember the Rangers name
Brigid April 24, 2012 at 03:28 PM
I'm sure it’s impossible due to legal issues, red tape, etc, but I would love to see this become a local, residents only park. Perhaps Durham and Haddam residents would be willing to purchase stickers at a nominal fee to be able to use the park. The money could be used to hire a part time attendant to check stickers, keep things clean and do a safety walk-around. Just throwing that out as food for thought.
Brigid April 24, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Also, Steve Levy is absolutely right about the trash. Numerous studies have shown that when an area is cleaned up people tend to behave better. I guess when people see trash they act trashy? I don't know. But it seems to be true.
Michele B April 24, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Why can't they have a sign mentioning the deaths in the pond? In this day and age with all the concerns about liability, that sign only indicates 'we don't accept liability if you swim in this area that looks ideal for swimming,' not 'it is actually quite dangerous to swim here and here's why.' I wouldn't mind so much if people had more warning about what to expect at that particular location.
Just my opinion April 24, 2012 at 06:02 PM
This is totally ridiculous why are we going to put someone to babysit? We have people fall off Beseck Mountain all the time are we going to ask for someone to walk up the trails and hold their hands? This is a State park and it is an has been an issue for years people can see all the signs now and don't follow them what makes anyone think they will change with a babysitter. It may sound harsh but stop trying to make it so those who don't follow rules are made into poor innocent victims. Our society sensationalizes celebrities who die from drug over doses and people who break laws are made into innocent victims. Rules are in place for a reason it is just high time people followed them.
Brigid April 24, 2012 at 06:18 PM
I don't think anyone's suggesting we hold their hands and we're not making them into poor innocent victims. A major problem here is the fact that our local emergency service volunteers are constantly having to go out there to rescue people from their own idiocy. They've practically worn their own ruts into the road getting there. Also, we have this beautiful property here and people are coming in and trashing it.
Haddam Qtr Resident April 24, 2012 at 07:55 PM
In the warmer months, out of town visitors trash the roads all the way up to Miller's Pond, not to mention their lack of respect for obeying the speed limits. We are constantly cleaning up their rubbish, as our neighborhood is conscientious. I completely agree with PDY as to making it a residents-only facility, as well as Just My Opinion as far as babysitting people who don't follow or respect the rules set forth.
Big K April 24, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Good idea except, who would monitor the stickers and who would be liable for the any Law suites that might arise?
Brigid April 24, 2012 at 11:10 PM
All good questions, Ken. That's why I'm throwing it out there. If the town (or towns) wanted to pursue it, they would have to study it from every angle and see if its even viable.


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