Local Issues: Fence at Flint River?

According to this story from Fox31, the family of DJ Vinson is trying to have a fence installed along the Flint River, particularly the stretch along Turtle Park in downtown Albany. Mr. Vinson, you may remember, drowned in the Flint River last August while trying to save a young boy that also drowned.

I have several problems with this. First and foremost is that while I truly do feel sorry for the family of Mr. Vinson and wish them all the best in their grieving process, it was Mr. Vinson himself who chose to attempt to rescue this boy. No one forced him into that choice, there was no law saying that he had to jump in the river and attempt to save a stranger who was drowning. His choice decided his fate, the same as all of us.

Secondly, what if, in a similar scenario, a person is already in the river and this stretch is the first chance they have to get to land and potentially save their life? With a fence there, they will be blocked in the river, potentially causing their death.

Furthermore, Turtle Park is a public recreation area, and the Flint River is a part of this recreation. In fact, the area near the train tracks is one of the easiest places I know of to go for a swim in the Flint or to go fishing. (Not that I’ve ever done either one, but I do know a good spot to do so when I see it!) Should this family be allowed to deny the other 90K+ citizens of Albany and Dougherty County the right to use this recreation area?

I can understand placing ‘Enter river at your own risk’ type signs throughout Turtle Park. In fact, I might encourage this, just to point out the obvious that entering a body of water is an inherently dangerous idea, and you should take appropriate caution if you decide to do so.

Again, while I truly do honestly feel bad for the family of both Mr. Vinson and Joshua Perry, the boy Mr. Vinson was trying to save when he drowned, this fence is not the answer to the problem, and I urge the County Commission to oppose this fence.

[Update Feb 17 2009 5:20am:] Albany Herald coverage can be found here, and WALB coverage can be found here.

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