‘How many kids have to drown?’ Fishermen question after 2 weekend deaths in Lake Pontchartrain


Two children died over the weekend while swimming at Lake Pontchartrain.

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Two children died over the weekend while swimming at Lake Pontchartrain.
Two children died over the weekend while swimming at Lake Pontchartrain.

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - When you go to the beach at Lake Pontchartrain along Lakeshore Drive, in the distance, you can see signs that say "No Swimming Beyond this Point." Over the weekend, two young children died while swimming near those piers. Police are still investigating, but a group of fishermen that spoke with WGNO told us they know what happened and something must be done.

Allen, Patrick, Wilbert, and Cleveland have been meeting at Lake Pontchartrain for decades. The group of retired fishermen have had some fun times, but they've also seen tragedy at the beach spot. This weekend, two children died after swimming in these waters, a 5-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl.

"So many kids in that water and it's impossible to watch all those kids, literally impossible," said Allen Sumas, a retired fisherman.

Sunday evening, police say the boy slipped from his aunt's hand while trying to go into some deeper water and went under. He was found unresponsive and died later at the hospital. Saturday, a young girl was in the water with a group of friends, when witnesses say all the girls started struggling. The victim was unresponsive when they got to her and later died at the hospital. Police are still investigating and have not officially classified these deaths as drownings, but these old fishermen say they know what's happening.

"You're in one foot of water, you walk two feet and you're in 7 feet of water and they walk too far out, and it's over with," said Sumas.

"There's a drop-off. So if you step a little further it might be a 4 or 5 feet drop off and that's where the kids that don't swim don't realize it," said Wilbert Vincent, a retired fisherman.

They say something needs to be done.

"Close the area down if you're not going to patrol it. Point blank. How many kids have to drown before they close this thing down?" said Sumas.

"It's hot out here, it's what 96 degrees in this city? People need to cool off and to come out here to the lakefront. The city needs to do something to help people out here and just have a lifeguard come out here on Sundays because that's the only day it's really packed out here. That would help a lot. You're talking about saving people's lives," said Wilbert.

Just last weekend, a 29-year-old man was found dead in the Lake. Police are still waiting for autopsy results.

The identities of the victims have not been released yet.


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