Archive for Friday, June 12, 2009

Lawrence police begin ticketing those trespassing on Bowersock Dam

Lawrence police are quick to respond to reports of trespassing on the Bowersock Dam in the wake of the near-drowning of a 14-year-old Lawrence teen on the Dam's spillway.

Lawrence police are quick to respond to reports of trespassing on the Bowersock Dam in the wake of the near-drowning of a 14-year-old Lawrence teen on the Dam's spillway.

June 12, 2009, 10:08 a.m. Updated June 12, 2009, 4:30 p.m.


Police citing Bowersock trespassers

Lawrence police are ticketing those trespassing on Bowersock Dam. Enlarge video

Lawrence police Friday morning were ticketing people trespassing on Bowersock Dam in the wake of last week's near drowning of a 14-year-old Lawrence teen.

Lawrence police Friday morning were ticketing people trespassing on Bowersock Dam in the wake of last week's near drowning of a 14-year-old Lawrence teen.

Some people just don’t understand the dangers of Lawrence’s Bowersock Dam and spillway, where raging waters almost claimed the life of a 14-year-old boy last week, a dam official said.

On Friday — one week after the boy was dramatically rescued from the water — four adults were cited by Lawrence police for criminal trespass after getting too close to the dangerous waters. The day before, dam officials said they witnessed a woman climb a barbed wired fence with her two young children to play in the water.

“There’s a lot of hazards out there,” said Rich Foreman, plant manager of Bowersock Mills & Power Co., 546 Mass., which owns and operates the dam and spillway and uses the powerful water currents to create hydroelectric energy.

Foreman, who lives at the power company, said he and his staff are monitoring the area closely after the June 5 near-drowning of Joseph Ahlert, and will be contacting police anytime people are seen in an unauthorized area, and pursuing criminal charges against them.

“We’re trying to protect the public more than anything else, it’s not that we want to be the bad guys that keep everybody out of there, it’s just that we have to, we don’t have a choice with the liability,” Foreman said. “We’re going to get aggressive with it.”

Those cited for criminal trespass on Friday “were observed walking in a restricted area along the Kansas River” shortly before 9 a.m., police spokeswoman Kim Murphree said in a news release. “The area is beyond a fence line that prohibits individuals from getting too close to the water and the dam.”

One week prior, Ahlert was on the spillway when he lost his balance, fell into the roaring water and became trapped under a log.

Emergency workers risked their lives to perform a 20-minute water rescue, eventually pulling Ahlert’s limp body from under the log and performing CPR on him for several minutes before successfully reviving him. Ahlert was flown with critical injuries to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.

The boy was given a 1-percent chance of survival, but was no longer hospitalized Friday. On Monday, the boy’s mother said he was making a “remarkable” recovery. Further attempts to contact the boy’s family were not successful this week.

Police consider Ahlert and the four teens he was with as suspects of criminal trespassing, said Lawrence Police Sgt. Bill Cory. Once the investigation is complete, Cory said the case will be forwarded to Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson’s office. The DA will determine whether to file charges.

Sarah Hill-Nelson, plant owner and operator, said plant officials met with Lawrence Police Chief Ron Olin and Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical officials on Thursday to discuss ways to prevent people from getting on the spillway and dam. She said plant workers will be notifying police anytime someone is found violating the law, and that officers have agreed to routinely monitor the area.

A police car was seen patrolling the area Friday afternoon.

Though the area is surrounded by fencing and large signs indicating the dangers of the area, plant workers said both are routinely knocked down and destroyed by people wanting to fish in the area.

Hill-Nelson said she encouraged people to use the river for recreation, just not in the areas east of the North Second Street bridges over the Kansas River and 30 feet to the east of the edge of the dam.

After the rescue, Bowersock officials painted a new large sign on a small pier, near where Ahlert fell into the water. In bright red letters, it reads, “No trespassing! Keep off concrete.” Multiple other signs in the area also indicate warnings.

The owner said emergency workers are planning exercises at the dam, in the event of another rescue.


zettapixel 8 years, 6 months ago

How about more time spent going after the bad guys (ie. the guy that held up the sandwich shop the other day, the thugs that held up the guy in the alley at gun point) instead of keeping people safe from their own stupidity by giving them tickets?

eotw33 8 years, 6 months ago

well the robbery is an ongoing investigation. It's not like whoever did that is out holding up a sign and police just have to locate him. This isn't where's Waldo criminal edition. The tresspassing is a crime in progress that will save lives. It is also on private property in a very dangerous location. If you had a pool behind your house you wouldn't want drunk homeless people hanging out on the diving board knowing they could fall in and you would be responsible. How many people die or almost die down there every year?

bearded_gnome 8 years, 6 months ago

I'm glad the PD is doing this, and I feel this is something they should have been doing all along.

but this is news? really? and to think I didn't get a breaking news e-mail alert on this!

Lawrence police Friday morning were ticketing people who were trespassing on Lawrence's Bowersock Dam.

will this story be updated throughout the day???

roger_o_thornhill 8 years, 6 months ago

I like that idea, "Where's Waldo: Criminal Edition"--sounds intriguing...

Camron Flanders 8 years, 6 months ago

So, what you are telling me is, they are going to do their job and handle trespassers.

Ok, now that we've got that all cleared up...

kcw1ld 8 years, 6 months ago

Here's a great idea! Government can construct boxes (which we will pay for, of course), and put us in those boxes with a camera - that way we won't drown, or drive without our seatbelts, or smoke, or do ANYTHING that might compromise this thing we call life - and maybe, just maybe, within that box we will never, ever die!

Tony Kisner 8 years, 6 months ago

Yes I agree with most of the posters, nothing good will come of this.

kmat 8 years, 6 months ago

Those that are complaining about this don't realize the high numbers of people every day that are out on the dam. I'm glad they're doing this. And they're having the paper cover it to get the word out. Hopefully if these idiots realize they're going to get ticketed for it, they'll stop coming to hang out at the dam.

If someone falls in like that kid did, we ALL have to pay to save their arses. Would you like to continue to pay for stupid people getting saved from the river or maybe have your tax dollars go towards fixing the streets? And at least they're getting some money from issuing these tickets.

And the police are here to PROTECT & SERVE. They are protecting our tax dollars and the lives of these idiots by ticketing them, in hopes they won't return to the dam.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 6 months ago

beo, i was thinking the same thing. the only people i've ever met that have such a problem with the police have been arrested or ticketed by them.
I think it's good that this is in the paper. i hope the fines are ridiculously high. they should call it a stupid tax. do something stupid, get a big ticket.
others have posted this; that kid took up 30 minutes of time for 10,15, 20 emergency personnel. not to mention the time involved for paperwork, insurance claims, hospital staff, etc. any one of these people down there on the dam today could find themselves washed down river in a heartbeat. and we start the cycle all over again. we complain alot about the police force not being big enough to handle the recent crime. it's a lot smaller when half the force is having to pull some dumbass out of the wash. maybe that's the new crime strategy. throw a kid in the river and rob Lawrence blind.

hail2oldku 8 years, 6 months ago

beo, that would be lawrenceguy40 digging for his ID in the picture accompanying the story. He's po'ed because he got his ticket already.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 6 months ago

I have sympathy for the police officer. They are standing right in front of those huge signs. Did those people say, what? I swear I never saw that sign? I thought it was, like, a guideline. Really. A police officer does not get to pick and chose what laws they as an individual would like to enforce. You break a law, any law, and you get in trouble. If the rule applied to burning your hand on the stove, you don't touch a hot one the second time, some people wouldn't have a hand.

pfunk81 8 years, 6 months ago

I'd like to see the police enforce biking and skateboarding on the sidewalk more! There's gold in them thar sidewalks! GOLD! I'd also like to know exactly which parts of "the dam" are considered off limits.

kmat 8 years, 6 months ago

pfunk - all parts of the dam are off limits. There isn't any area safe to be on. There are the biking/walking trails and you can go down to one area to fish near the dam (the trail takes you down to it).

I don't think you know what the dam really is.

compmd 8 years, 6 months ago

"I like that idea, “Where's Waldo: Criminal Edition”—sounds intriguing…"

I think one of the things you look for is a car with the letters "SN" on the license plate.

John Spencer 8 years, 6 months ago

Irish (Irish Swearingen) says…

A police officer does not get to pick and chose what laws they as an individual would like to enforce. You break a law, any law, and you get in trouble.

WereAllMonkeys (WAM) says… Ha Ha Ha..... did you write that with a straight face?

George_Braziller 8 years, 6 months ago

At what point did rivers become private property? My memories from my law classes ages ago are rusty but I thought the rivers and banks of the rivers were under the control of state entities.

Confrontation 8 years, 6 months ago

The moron who got her children to climb over the fence should have her children permanently removed from her custody. What's wrong with people?

nut_case 8 years, 6 months ago

Too funny...the risk of losing your life is not enough to keep you from climbing on the dam, but a ticket and having to pay 50 bucks to the city is.

Why not use the police to reduce the growing string of robberies and crimes against innocent people rather than having them down at the dam keeping idiots safe from themselves.

jonas_opines 8 years, 6 months ago

I like how people have assumed that just because there were a couple of police officers giving citations to people too near a dangerous waterway, that naturally the police were not pursuing leads on armed robberies and the like.

I'm sure that's the case.

muddfoot55 8 years, 6 months ago

Good the time I was 6 I KNEW you didn't mess with the river because it could make you DEAD! End of story.

Unfortunately the adolesences involved are going to made an example of. Hopefully with that said and knowing that the dam area is being watched, maybe everyone will find something else to do.

The bigger picture here is the lack of parental supervision. How many teens are left at home during the summer, left to their own devices and nothing constructive to occupy their time. Compounded by the fact that there is little to do that doesn't involve a pile of cash and a teen has to look really hard to find a job. Besides, I have met way too many kids that think they are above moving a lawn or responsible enough to watch someone else's kids.

Idle hands...Idle minds.

KLATTU 8 years, 6 months ago

"...they witnessed a woman climb a barbed wired fence..."

No climbing is necessary. The fences are on the ground. They would have to be pulled out of the dirt, and erected properly to even imagine climbing them.

rousseau108 8 years, 6 months ago

I'm sure the cops would rather be doing something more productive, but the problem is whenever someone sees any little situation they don't like and calls the police, the police have to respond. If people stopped calling the police b/c they can't control their own kids or get along with each other, or to act as dog catchers, etc, the police would actually be able to be out patrolling and focus on serious crimes. This city has a very small department and they obviously can't be everywhere at once and focus on every single issue that anyone feels should be "top priority."

BlackVelvet 8 years, 6 months ago

wondering out loud......"is lawrenceguy40 really smitty?"

bearded_gnome 8 years, 6 months ago

no, lg40 seems to be male and smitty is thought to be female.

however, they could be married to each other.

too close to the dangerous waters. The day before, dam officials said they witnessed a woman climb a barbed wired fence with her two young children to play in the water.

Darwin award!

also, what is this "mother" thinking: you want your kids to play in that water?

hey Ma! you tryin' to get your kids sick?

and "playing in that water was the best entertainment you could think of for them? here's an idea: get a board, drive a 16-penny nail through so it sticks out the other side. set the board on the ground with the nail sticking up. have your kids step on the other end of the board so the end with the nail flies up and smacks them in the forehead!
there you go!

Matt Toplikar 8 years, 6 months ago

The world's a dangerous place. Get over it. In fact that's part of the fun of living. When I was a teenager, we used to find ourselves in all sorts of places we shouldn't be. We weren't hurting anyone, and if we were ever caught, we were just told to leave. Sometimes it got pretty dangerous, but we were bored and it was fun.

I've been down near those spillways plenty of times and they're not that treacherous. Given the right situation accidents can happen anywhere. What's next-- tickets for all the kids who don't wear bike helmets? Maybe we should start ticketing people who walk home at night alone. I've heard some people get attacked sometimes. Sounds like a job for the safety police.

If you really don't want kids down there then give them something in town that's fun to do. Lawrence used to have a rollerskating rink, a miniature golf course, and a few cool arcades. I guess there's still the pool and the bowling alley, but the more the merrier when it comes to that kind of stuff. Trust me when I say that if there's nothing better to do, kids will just find some other "dangerous" place to trespass.

As far as the police go... how about putting some manpower into cracking the case on all those times my car got hit in a downtown parking lot.

Fatty_McButterpants 8 years, 6 months ago

Oh Lawrence armchair geniuses! We are not worthy of being in your all-knowing presence! However, if I may insert one teeny-tiny little argument into the "cops just want to boost their ego/cops don't get to pick and choose which laws to enforce" debate...

Criminal trespass is a charge that has to be pursued by the property owner, not the police. If you're pissed that the po-lice are interfering with your redneck yacht club down at the dam, look to the company that owns the dam. Of course, one can hardly blame the company for not wanting to be subject to lawsuits because of morons.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 6 months ago

was down there a little while, and wow! lot of families, kids on/by the levee.

its like all the publicity brought 'em out there. that is, they weren't in the restricted area, just the general area.

RKLOG 8 years, 5 months ago

This is a stupid law. There are many dangerous things in life and many are quite legal. Quit wasting our time and go out and get some real criminals.

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