October 23, 2014
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Can we stop it from happening again?
WARNING: These signs serve as the warning to the point's currents.

“You got to do something down there,” said Fred Cavanaugh of Conimicut Point.

Cavanaugh’s suggestions include blowing a hole in the sand bar to create a waterway that would be too wide and deep to cross and fencing it off.

“They need to put up some sort of barricade, even if it just holds out until the end of the year,” he said.

Since the loss of 16-year-old Javon Jimenez, who was swept off the sand bar Sunday afternoon on a rising moon tide, there has been much discussion as to what can be done to avert another tragedy, but none quite as radical as Cavanaugh’s suggestion to “blow a hole in it.”

Parks and Recreation Director Michael Rooney said he was at the point last Wednesday for a concert and noticed the current and how quickly the tide retreated.

“You couldn’t see the sand and then 20 minutes later the tide was out and people were fishing,” he said. “People don’t understand how strong the current is.”

According to the Coast Guard, a nearly six-foot tide was recorded at 7:43 p.m. Sunday. Tidal flow is strongest two hours before the high, but the Coast Guard did not have information as to the rate of flow.

Since the drowning, Rooney said he has pondered what could be done to better warn people of the dangers, or stop them from venturing out on the point, but has come up with nothing more than the signage that is already there.

Mayor Scott Avedisian, who was at the point soon after the call Sunday evening and periodically during the search and when the body was recovered the following day, said, Tuesday, that the city has contacted the Interlocal Trust to review the measures taken to warn people of the currents. The trust recently visited the point and found that the notifications were adequate.

Avedisian has heard the suggestion to remove the sand bar. Whether that would be feasible or not, Avedisian said, “I would hate to do it.” He said part of the attraction of the point park is to take advantage of the shoreline.

A suggestion he offered was a sign directing people not to go beyond a certain point, although enforcing it would be difficult.

Rep. Frank Ferri proposed a meeting between the city, Coast Guard and other groups with an interest to discuss measures that could be taken.

“We know there’s a danger there,” he said, and suggested lights could be erected at the point that would flash like a railroad crossing during extreme tides.

Yet Ferri also acknowledged it would be impossible to protect people from every circumstance.

Since the tragedy, police have been dispatched to “shoo” fishermen off the sandbar. However, dispatching them continuously would also be a problem.

Col. Stephen McCartney said Warwick Police have been “giving Conimicut Pt. Park special attention for several years now because of quality of life issues and ensuring that park closings are enforced. It would be very difficult to short post an officer there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, given the calls for service volume that WPD deals with, particularly during the summer.”

As Russell Yates observed in an e-mail, “Just posting Strong Currents don't nearly tell the whole story and misinforms people. Not knowing, most people think I'm not going out into the water. I'm safely walking on the sand bar. It's a false security.”

Yates, who contacted media outlets after the drowning, suggests that signs tell the story of drownings and that people can be swept off the sand bar after loosing their footing in as little as 6 inches to 12 inches of water. As Ferri proposed, Yates thinks a flashing light, especially during incoming tides that can be strongest, would be good. And, in memory of those who have lost their lives and as a reminder, he would erect a memorial.

A visit to the park early yesterday morning found regulars Ron Gerry, Wayne Adams and Bob Hawthorne perched on the parking lot guardrail. They meet there every morning and were responsible for calling 911 when they spotted a capsized canoeist out by the lighthouse earlier this year. At that time, Warwick firefighters sent out a boat and were able to retrieve the man. The regulars suggested larger signs and signs in Spanish. They also thought erecting a sign on the beach at the beginning of the point would be good. The existing signs are on an embankment overlooking the point.


Comments
6 comments on this item

Easy solution.... dont go on the sand bar..... There are clearly marked signs about the danger... STAY OFF THE SAND BAR.... Problem fixed and didnt cost a dime.

Restricting access to the sandbar is a horrible idea, and removing it is even worse. You can not protect people from themselves. Thousands and thousands of people walk that sandbar every year and somehow manage to avoid problems. As someone who fishes there, you simply must respect nature. I would not, however, be opposed to a large (4' x 8') sign listing the name and dates of those who have died there for, say, the last fifty years. This incident was a horrible tragedy, but it does not mean it was anyone's fault. If you want to restrict access to all areas where people are in peril, close Rt. 95.

you will always have stupid people

I'm sick and tired of certain people thinking the world can, and should, be made hazard free. It's pure folly to think it's even possible, and the end result is always that the rest of us pay for the ignorance and/or stupidity of the few with more and more diminishment of our freedoms. That said, the only improvement I can realistically see down there is a big sign that basically says that if you go out on the sand bar, you do so at your own risk, as injury or death could result. Maybe THAT will tell the story plainly enough to be effective. I won't hold my breath, though.

You can't legislate common sense.

tragedies in nature happen all the time.

the current warning signs are fine enough, sadly these individuals chose to ignore the warnings and paid the ultimate price for it.

what's next, blow a hole in mount washington so people don't climb it? after all it would help prevent the death that happens annually.

how about ban fast food to prevent heart attacks?

the government is not your mommy, people need to take responsibility for themselves and their own actions rather than trying to ban everything potentially harmful for everyone.

HOW AWFUL!!!!! to even post comments so negative. like that sandbar is more important then a human life .i am the aunt of javon jimenez whos life was cut short because of that stupid sandbar. the city should be ashamed of its self for not doing MORE,MORE to protect human life not a stupid sandbar SHAME ON THE MAYOR!!!!!! i went to this park for the first time in my life to only SEE many flowers and writings and faces of those who drowned because of this sandbar. my familys lifes will never be the same. my heart goes out to the other victims familys .we are humans we make mistakes . if this sandbar is taking lives even with warning signs up then its our duty to do MORE TO SAVE POEPLES LIFE!!! make bold change.. im begging the city to shut down that sandbar for good .... think of how many lives will be saved in the future terry gautier

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