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Tragic loss of life at Lampson Falls

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The SUNY Canton community is mourning the death of student Elliot Mullings, who drowned at Lampson Falls Sunday.

Mr. Mullings, 21, was swimming with friends at the falls Sunday when he was swept away by the swift current. St. Lawrence County Underwater Recovery Team divers recovered his body Monday morning.

Our hearts go out to his family and friends as they grapple with their loss.

The water in the area of Lampson Falls, like many areas on the Grasse River, is swift even when the river is not swollen with spring runoff. It is an area that has claimed lives in the past.

As county divers can attest, its fast current and underwater eddies make navigating it difficult.

As county residents take to the water with the arrival of warm weather, they should know as much as they can about the body of water they are considering as a swimming hole, and take precautions accordingly.

In areas with swift current, especially with undertow, swimmers should strongly consider wearing life jackets to help keep them afloat. It is a simple step that could be life-saving.

Signs posted that discourage swimming should be taken seriously, even if the reason swimming is discouraged is not obvious.

In the case of Lampson Falls, its swift current and the possibility of rapid water release from a dam upriver make the prospect of swimming there a risky one.

High water volume as a result of extensive snow melt, the likes of which many of our streams and rivers are seeing this season, can exacerbate an already dangerous situation. We urge residents to exercise caution as they take to the water this year.

At Lampson Falls, county divers had difficulties finding Mr. Mullings because of the current, the true strength of which might not have been obvious to a casual onlooker. Residents need to keep in mind that a river that looks reasonably calm on the surface could be raging below.

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