Milford Village officials are looking into the need for increased safety measures along a local stretch of the Huron River after a teenager and a 48-year-old Milford resident both drowned near a dam in Milford Township on May 21, after the teen fell out of his canoe and the man tried to rescue him.
“We’re still looking into it. The village owns the dam, but the dam isn’t in the village and is part of the township,” said Village Manager Arthur Shufflebarger. “The Huron River is owned by the state and we contacted the (state Department of Natural Resources). We haven’t heard back from them yet.”
Shufflebarger added that the options being discussed include installation of a cable barrier across the dam’s base, as well as additional warning/safety signage. He said village officials are working with Milford Police Chief Thomas Callahan on the various options.
“If we got approval from the state, it would take about 30 days to install,” Shufflebarger said of the cable barrier or additional signage. “We’re aiming for August and September.”
He added that the township isn’t required to approve the placement of a barrier or signage, but if a new ordinance was to be created regarding the river and dam, it would be a township ordinance.
The measures are being considered after the tragic events that took place on May 21, when a canoe on the river being paddled by 16-year-old John Przydatek of Harrison Township and a friend, also a 16-year-old male, got caught up in the current near the dam and overturned. Both teens were thrown into the river. Przydatek was sucked by the current into an area at the base of the dam.
A 48-year-old Milford resident, Douglas Killingbeck, responded to cries for help by getting in his canoe and paddling to the area near the dam’s base.
According to witnesses, in an attempt to help, Killingbeck jumped into the water after locating Przydatek and went under the water surface, but he didn’t resurface.
Both bodies were later recovered.
Sergeant Matthew Brumm of the Milford Police Department said the teenagers were not wearing life jackets, while Killingbeck was at the time of the incident.
Brumm added that there currently are signs posted warning people to stay in a safe area away from the dam because of water turbulence, and that life jackets should always be worn when canoeing on the river.