Grieving family questions retention pond safety
Officials warn guardrails won't fix all
Last Updated: 241 days ago
INDIANAPOLIS - A grieving family is calling for retention pond safety measures after their loved one died when his car went into a Westfield pond Saturday night.
Friends and family of Alexander Cottom want to know why there wasn’t a guardrail in place protecting that pond.
“Personally, I’m quite concerned about this retention pond that is here behind us and its proximity to a major highway,” said Cottom’s father Steve Cottom.
In Hamilton County, most new subdivisions have a retention pond, but experts said to put protective guarding up would be more costly than effective.
Hamilton County authorities estimated dive teams respond to a handful of accidents involving vehicles in retention ponds each year.
“I don’t think you necessarily need to put 6-foot high chain length fences around these things, but I think that guardrails, or some kind of a protective barrier, is the least that can be done when these things are constructed,” Cottom said.
As the special operations coordinator with the Fishers Fire Department, Sgt. Clinton Crafton said he learned last winter that guardrails aren’t always enough to keep people and vehicles out of ponds.
“There was a fence and several trees along that property, but that car still got a good 15 feet out into the water. It’s not necessarily going to make the difference,” Crafton said.
In 2011, Greenwood leaders used a grant to put a rail around a retention pond after a fatal accident, but other measures to require protection around the ponds have failed to get enough support from Indiana lawmakers.
Crafton advised that awareness of your surroundings and a plan to break a window to escape a sinking vehicle are ways people can try to keep an accident from turning deadly.
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