CLEBURNE COUNTY, Ark. — The drowning of a father at a popular cliff jumping spot along Greers Ferry Lake, prompts a warning from first responders.
According to Cleburne County Sheriff Chris Brown, the water level is higher than usual and that’s posing the biggest threat to swimmers.
“As soon as the water level comes up it covers a lot of things that normally you’d be able to see and can make it a lot more dangerous,” he added. “Knowing your abilities. Knowing how good of a swimmer you are and what risks you can take and what you can’t take, then stay within those abilities.”
Sheriff Brown says 23-year-old George Reed jumped from the Trouble Island area Saturday, but never resurfaced. This is the first drowning at the lake this year. A teenager drowned jumping from the same spot in 2018.
“It can be a lot of fun, but it can be very dangerous,” warned Sheriff Brown. “Every year we wind up having broken legs, broken arms, people that have big cuts, and some that don’t come back up again.”
Dozens of swimmers took the plunge Monday afternoon, including Daniel Leonard. It was the 18-year-old’s first trip to the lake but he says news of the drowning is washing up a pain he knows all too well.
“I unfortunately lost my brother to a drowning last year so I understand what that feeling is for my family,” he said. “It’s difficult. No family wants to go through, but it happens.”
Leonard still leapt in, but not without hesitation. He says warning signs that state “Danger, Submerged Obstructions” aren’t enough, and should mention drowning.
“I could have jumped off in that same spot and something could have happened to me,” he added. “It takes a toll on you. Every time you look at water, every time you jump in the water, makes you think about that one thing.”