Public safety commissioner, sheriff call for spillway safety barriers after teen drowns at Lake Bistineau

Louisiana

BOSSIER CITY, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The family of a local teen who drowned earlier this month when his fishing boat capsized in rough waters on Lake Bistineau supports calls for safety barriers on all of the state’s spillways, according to Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell.

Campbell joined Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington on Monday in calling on Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Jack Montoucet to put up safety barriers to help prevent future drownings on state-operated bodies of water, one week after 15-year-old Hayden Lane Mangum of Elm Grove drowned while fishing with a friend at the Lake Bistineau spillway.

Campbell said currents can be swift and unpredictable where impoundments hold back water on manmade lakes.

It is “imperative,” Campbell wrote Montoucet, that the state secure areas near spillways “to prevent another tragedy from occurring.”

Campbell said Mangum’s family expressed support for the push for safety barriers when he spoke with them Monday morning.

“Since this tragic event last week, I have spoken to our state officials about making this area safer for boaters,” Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington said in a statement after visiting the scene of the drowning responders from his office. “The water current around this spillway is deceiving.”

Mangum was a sophomore football and baseball player at Calvary Baptist Academy in Shreveport. Investigators said Mangum and a 16-year-old friend were fishing near the Bistineau spillway when one of the teens got his bait hung up. As they tried to free the line their boat was swept over the spillway and capsized.

The 16-year-old survived but Mangum did not. His body was found hours later near the spillway.

Whittington added, “Better warning signs and barriers of some type are desperately needed and could have possibly prevented this tragic accident from happening.”

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