Swimming hole's appeal unaffected by drowning

June 21, 1994|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Sun Staff Writer

A day after a Glen Burnie man drowned at the Savage Rapids in Howard County, teen-agers and young adults continued to pack the rock-lined swimming hole as if the accident had never happened.

"There's nothing going to stop me from coming here," said Andrew Little, 23, yesterday, when told of the death as he stood near some large rocks near the Little Patuxent River. "Stuff like this happens. You've just got to expect it."

Meanwhile, local police and park officials say they have no plans to close off the area, even though swimming is officially prohibited along that stretch of the Little Patuxent.

"No, we are not going to close it," said Cpl. Kevin Costello, a police spokesman, adding that police routinely patrol the spot. "We can't be there 24 hours a day. It's time people started taking responsibility for their own actions."

On Sunday, George Daniel Snyder, of the 100 block of Jerome Parkway in Glen Burnie, became the first person to die this year at the popular spot behind the Historic Savage Mill on Foundry Street in the southeastern part of the county.

The popular wooded swimming and diving spot, located within the county's Savage Park, has sharp, jagged rocks, known as the Savage Rocks. To get to the swimming hole, visitors take several steep dirt trails.

Mr. Snyder, who friends said had been drinking, become separated from them at the site about 2 a.m. His body was found about 7:15 a.m. in 4 feet of water at the confluence of the Little Patuxent River and the Middle Patuxent River, some 100 to 200 feet downstream from the rocks where he was last seen.

The State Medical Examiner's Office in Baltimore said that drowning was a cause of death, but was still awaiting the results of further tests as of last night. Police said Sunday that Mr. Snyder's skull had been cracked open.

"It almost appears he dove in or fell," said Lt. Michael Gearhart, a spokesman for county fire and rescue services.

He added that one to two deaths and numerous injuries take place at the site each year.

When reached by telephone yesterday, a woman who identified herself as Mr. Snyder's mother declined to comment.

But his father had said earlier that he also had visited the swimming hole as a young man.

Police say the spot has long been an attraction for young people, who often drink alcohol there, which is illegal.

Police issue citations for alcohol violations and make arrests if people are found using drugs.

Yesterday afternoon, a police cadet talked to young people at the site, after the mill management complained about the swimming hole visitors parking on the mill's lot.

John Byrd, chief of the county's Bureau of Parks, said the county's Department of Recreation and Parks bans swimming at the park, which is open from dawn to dusk.

But as of 7 p.m. yesterday, there were at least a dozen people swimming or playing on the rocks, despite a "No Swimming" sign posted at one spot.

Jeffrey Bourne, director of Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, said there are no plans to physically close the site. "Not at this time," he said.

Closing the site would be futile, said Ken Smith, 35, of Harundale, who was visiting the swimming hole yesterday with his 11-year-old son, Jeffrey. Mr. Smith said he comes three times a week and hopes officials don't close it.

"They can make a thousand arrests, and people will still come," Mr. Smith said.

Chad Albrecht, 16, of Glen Burnie, was not deterred, even though he hurt himself slightly on the rocks yesterday.

His friend Jennifer Vanryswyk, 16, said coming to the spot requires responsibility.

"You get hurt when you're sober," she said. "You get more hurt when not knowing what you're doing."

And at about 7 p.m., yesterday, a group of eight young people from Severn finished an afternoon of swimming, unfazed by the knowledge that someone had died at the site the weekend before.

"I jumped off of that thing four times today," said Jason Hawkins, 18, referring to a large rock that serves as a popular diving platform.

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