Cracking Down at Savage Rocks

June 22, 1994

What do you say about a 35-year-old father who insists on taking his 11-year-old son to a swimming hole that is a known hazard and the site of a recent drowning?

To hear police and those who frequent the popular swimming hole along the Little Patuxent River in Savage, there is nothing that can be done to stop such folks from harming themselves if they are intent on acting carelessly.

Officials theorize that a Glen Burnie man who drowned Sunday at Savage Rocks (not the aforementioned father or son) may have been drinking and either jumped or fell from a cliff, striking his head on the jagged stones that surround the hole. A posted sign warns against swimming at the site in southeastern Howard County, but that apparently has been too little to discourage the foolhardy. Revelers continue to flock to the location.

When asked whether police could close the site, police Cpl. Kevin Costello expressed frustration. "We can't be there 24 hours a day," he said. "It's time people started taking responsibility for their own actions."

Harundale resident Ken Smith, who brings his 11-year-old son to Savage Rocks three times a week, all but dared police to try and stop him from coming. "They can make a thousand arrests, and people will still come," he said.

He's right, but that's not the point. If the goal is to stop people from acting foolishly, nothing can be done. But if the goal is to save even one life, county officials must discard their pessimism in favor of action.

Police and park officials can, with constant patrols and arrests, discourage people from frequenting the Savage swimming hole. Make it a less welcome spot. Similar steps are taken regularly to stop youths from late-night loitering outside convenience stores or at other public places. If police can protect a business from this kind of activity, they certainly must take such steps to save a life.

What do you say to a man who insists on taking his son to Savage Rocks? Tell him that the community cares enough not to allow him to harm himself. Tell him he should care enough not to expose his own child to potential harm. And ask him what he will say should the worst occur and he has nothing left but regrets.

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