WALL LAKE, S.D. (KELO) — Following another drowning at Wall Lake, there’s even more of a focus on protecting swimmers. Soon, anyone who doesn’t have a life jacket will be able to use one for free while enjoying the lake.
Nobody wants to see flashing lights and search crews at the beach. This year, it’s happened at least twice at Wall Lake.
“It’s terrible. It broke my heart the first time, and it really broke my heart the second time,” Wall Lake resident Bunny Timpe said “So, we’re hoping that when this program is up that people will be more educated on safety at the lake. That they will take it to heart. If you don’t swim, wear a life jacket around the water.”
Bunny Timpe is working with the “Friends of Wall Lake” group and Minnehaha County Emergency Management to provide life jackets for anyone who needs them.
“Now we are looking at and in the process of building a life jacket station,” director of Minnehaha County Emergency Management Jason Gearman said. “It’s a voluntary program. Other places have used it. I think there’s one in Yankton, there is one up at Lake Madison. It’s generally for boating purposes, but this we are going to use for recreation.”
The Wall Lake Life Jacket Program would be free to use for anyone. They just ask that people return them when they’re done.
“Obviously, we realize some are going to get damaged or maybe missing, but we’re looking for donations of life jackets. We do have plenty right now, but in the future we may need some,” Gearman said.
They hope to have the life jacket station installed as soon as possible. Clint Bury, who was out enjoying the lake Tuesday, thinks the program is a great idea.
“People really need a life jacket especially if you’re on a boat. It’s required by law so that’s one thing, but if you’re a new swimmer, it’s nice to have a life jacket,” Bury said. “It helps you learn how to swim and hopefully you can progress to the point where you might not need a life jacket so you can actually save yourself in the water.”
The Game, Fish and Parks department has also moved the buoys into shallower water and installed rescue rings at the beach.
If you want to help the Wall Lake Life Jacket program, please contact Minnehaha County Emergency Management or Bunny Timpe at 605-951-6729.