August 3rd, 2010
01:01 AM ET

Six teens drown in Louisiana river

Six teens drowned after they waded into unfamiliar waters and fell into a deeper part of the Red River in Shreveport, Louisiana, officials said.

One additional member of the group was rescued, Shreveport Assistant Fire Chief Fred Sanders told CNN.

He said no one in the group of teens, who ranged in age from 13 to 18, could swim.

The victims were part of two families, and three of the victims were brothers, he said.

Divers on scene said the river bed drops from a shallow area to 20 feet, Sanders said.

People nearby heard the teens screaming for help, CNN affiliate KSLA reported.

Local ministers were in the area counseling grief-stricken family members Monday evening, KSLA said.

"Please lift this family up in prayer," Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover told KSLA.

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Filed under: Louisiana • U.S.
soundoff (481 Responses)
  1. donfitness

    Sounds like they may have had too much clothing on. That can cause most average to below average swimmers to drown. I'm sure they didn't realize it was going to drop off so suddenly into deep water.

    August 3, 2010 at 2:32 am | Report abuse |
  2. Chris

    WHat a difference local culture makes. Here in southern California it would be hard to find a group of 6 people where none of them could swim. An other sad fact is that if you can scream and shout you are not downing. You are breathing quite well if you can make noise. They died due to panic

    August 3, 2010 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
    • RayOfLight

      it wouldn't be so hard to find a group of 6 if 3 were of the same family and then 3 (wow, big number there!) other people didn't know how to swim...

      for example, my gf doesn't know how to swim, her 2 best friends don't know how to swim...and did i mention my gf didn't know how to swim? so her brother and sisters (2) don't know how to swim as well...

      i'm her bf and i just recently learned how to swim...i tested trying to save someone (a 7 yr old) before and all i can say about that is...if she ever started drowning, i'd be praying for us really hard while trying to save her!

      they all do things together all the time...including going to the beach.

      August 3, 2010 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  3. Paul

    I hope the best for these families, and hope they can be strong during this tragedy. I saw someone up above post about many African Americans not being able to swim. I myself have to agree, I do remember in my Navy boot camp class when we had to go in the pool and the only guys that couldn't swim were African Americans. We had between 17-20 guys that were of that race and I think there were only two that could swim. Not sure why that is how it is but regardless my heart goes out to them.

    August 3, 2010 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
    • chris

      I saw the same thing in the Army...but every non swimmer was taught to swim after a few days. Race is not the issue. Most people die from panic in the water. every human that can physically move their arms and legs can tread water...humans are all built the same.

      Its just a matter of parents getting their kids in the water to get over that fear. nothing more. But the ad thing here was the parents couldnt swim either. Common sense would tell me to keep my kids totally away from the water if they couldnt swim. Just a matter of poor supervision here folks. Nothing more.

      August 3, 2010 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  4. erik the redd

    did they all jump in at the exact same time? i mean, didnt anybody see the first person drowning and think, "oh no, that person that just jumped in before me is drowning and i cant swim; maybe jumping in would be a bad idea". this is definitely sad, which does not automatically qualify it as not being stupid.

    August 3, 2010 at 2:47 am | Report abuse |
    • disturbed

      It sounds like the sandy bottom may have given away under them....thus leaving them all in over their heads immediately. I live in Michigan where we are surrounded by rivers.....and you have to respect them. But, sometimes things happen and this isn't the time to point blame....I can promise you that no one would have wanted to avoid this more than the poor parents who lost children...simply unimaginable! Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers

      August 3, 2010 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • RayOfLight

      how can you leave a comment questioning someone else's rationale without using the same path of rationale yourself? how can you imply that they didn't think about alternatives and you didn't think to yourself that something else probably happened?

      if you didn't know how to swim and your brother/sister/son/daughter/mom/dad was drowning, what would you do? would you just watch them drown? or would you run to get help thereby leaving them to drown? or would you throw rocks to them hoping that maybe they could float on them? what would you do?

      August 3, 2010 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  5. Rob

    A sad, needless tragedy. By the time a child can count to ten they should at least know how to tread water.

    August 3, 2010 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
  6. Lorenzo

    Jees , can't even die in peace ,... without all the fighting!

    August 3, 2010 at 3:08 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jeremy W

    Is it that hard to swim? Just kick your legs and you float lol

    August 3, 2010 at 3:12 am | Report abuse |
    • sarah

      jeremy, you are disgusting.

      August 3, 2010 at 4:00 am | Report abuse |
    • RayOfLight

      apparently it's not that easy if people drown?

      August 3, 2010 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  8. erik the redd

    its louisiana...maybe it was a group suicide.

    August 3, 2010 at 3:21 am | Report abuse |
    • BayouGirl

      What the fugg is that supposed to mean Eric? As if your state is any better than Louisiana! Shut the fugg up why don't you?!??!!

      August 3, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Troy from S'port

    The depth of the water is not at issue here. The Red River was made navigable again in the 1980's. Afterwards which recreation and picnic areas were constructed on each side of the river. These areas include docks for launching boats but no swimming areas. The recreation areas have signs that warn of the dangers of swimming in the river because of strong currents. Even along the banks where the water is waist or chest deep, the current can be strong enough to pull a person out to the middle of the river in the blink of an eye. These folks were not at one of the recreational areas; they were under the Jimmy Davis Bridge on the south side of town but the parents still should have known the dangers of wadding in a river with strong currents especially since this tragedy happens in the Shreveport area each year. Even knowing how to swim cannot be guaranteed to save you life when competing against strong river currents.

    August 3, 2010 at 3:23 am | Report abuse |
    • penny

      We have the same thing in Lake D'arbonne, in Farmerville, every year. It never fails; they swim around the spillway; the currents suck them under. They come back up a few days later, usually within two in the summer, longer in the winter.

      August 3, 2010 at 4:31 am | Report abuse |
  10. ncwiseguy

    people do stupid stuff...........just like these kids did. and it ended tragically.

    here in eastern north carolina the police find teens breaking into boats at a marina. one kid bolts and runs down the dock trying to escape the law enforcement people chasing him. well he runs out of dock. so what does he do?? jumps in the water and drowns.

    now that is STUPID!!!

    August 3, 2010 at 3:42 am | Report abuse |
  11. Milhouse

    I'm hoping the people posting the rude stupid comments are not parents themselves. This was a tragic accident & they were only kids!

    August 3, 2010 at 3:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. Cheryl

    Why would the kids go in the river IF THEY CAN'T SWIM?

    August 3, 2010 at 4:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian


      August 3, 2010 at 6:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      Because it is EXTREMELY hot here in the south right now and many poor folks can't afford a/c. The kids didn't know it was going to drop off like that. Poor things were just trying to cool off.

      August 3, 2010 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Kaari

      Cheryl ... I take it you have never entered a plane coz you can't fly. or better still ... why enter a bath if you can't swim? I think thats your point ... in future it might be wise to think before you publish ignorance.

      Lets take your logic a little further ... eh, no one should learn how to swim because in doing so, they would be risking their lives as they wouldn't not have mastered how to do swim at that juncture. Right?

      Nb: Way back when they didn't have swimming pools people learned to swim in rivers and oceans (and I believe that may still happen to this very day) ... so what would you like to say about that? Additionally, people who can swim have drowned ... and yes, even in shallow waters! entanglements/ cramps etc.

      August 16, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jon

    Weren't there any crocodiles in the water?

    August 3, 2010 at 4:24 am | Report abuse |
    • penny

      You ate a lot of paint chips as a child, didn't you?

      August 3, 2010 at 4:28 am | Report abuse |
  14. penny

    I think many inner city, and black children, in our state did not have access to swimming pools and swimming lessons. Public schools here in Louisiana, as a general rule, do not have swim classes of any kind. I do wish the education system thought it as important as other sports, etc., where all our children could learn to swim, since we are surrounded in water.
    I certainly was not there, but I am from Louisiana. My father wouldn't even let us swim in our local lake because of these sorts of things; drop off, undercurrents, etc. Then there's snakes, alligators, snapping turtles...but we were country kids, and we certainly swam in muddy water behind my father's back, which was stupid and foolish. All children make mistakes, all children do dangerous and foolish things; it never occurs to them how dangerous things are, until there is an accident. The majority of us get to learn from our experience; we learn not to do it again; these children will not get that opportunity. I hope others will learn from this tragedy; I hope others will realize how dangerous natural bodies of water are, even for strong swimmers.
    I'll bet these children were city children; they nor their parents knew or understood how dangerous things can be; it has been so hot down here; who wouldn't want to go in the water?
    I can tell you what happened; they didn't just "walk" out together and all jump off into the deeper water; they drifted, slowly, subtly, without their knowledge' the little "waves" lapping at you, confuse you about exactly how far away from the shore you have gotten. ( When I was little, I used to think the ripples were "after" me; maybe they were.)
    They were close together, though, and when a number of them started slipping, (& the beds are VERY slick and slimey, esp. in warm/hot weather), they started grabbing at the others, and drug them down, too. Some probably went forward to help, not knowing how strong a panicked person in the water is; the very person they tried to save may have killed them.
    Last, but not least, these were young people. I am not obese, but I am a little fluffy in some places; I float like a cork when I hit the water; I literally can sleep while floating on my back; I will not sink. Most of them were probably thin, like most teens are; with no body fat for flotation, even thrashing around, they sunk like a brick.
    As for the people making light of this situation; they will have children some day; regrettably they are probably hexing their future children; they may very well have to bury one of theirs some day; I doubt they will find it funny; the guilt over that part they played in bringing it on their offspring will make it worse.
    When I was a teen, a friend of mine named Billy was helping his father and brother bale hay; it was hot, as it always is here. He had been working very hard, and was just burning up; he decided to swim across the pond, something he had done many times before. As his brother stood in the shallow water watching, Billy took off swimming. He was swimming pretty fast, showing out for his brother; he disappeared from view. They had to drag the pond that afternoon, to get him out. His brother and father dove, over and over, feeling around in the slick mud, until the crews got there to drag it; the pond would not give him up. They were told he probably had a cramp, from the cold water, after being so hot. Billy was white and had been swimming like a fish since he could walk; he's still just as dead as these black children are. I can not understand, and do not really want to understand, someone so evil, that they would think there was anything funny about this.
    My heart goes out to this family; I pray you will find a way to live with this pain. I wish there were something I could do to help.

    August 3, 2010 at 4:27 am | Report abuse |
    • George

      There is something you can do to help. Talk less.

      August 3, 2010 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
    • lizevem

      you don't have to have swim lessons to learn to swim, why didn't the parents take the kids to the river to learn to swim? um drowning doesn't care what color you are... learn to swim it only takes about 10 minutes to learn the doggy paddle or stay a float on your back. It's no ones fault but their own.

      August 3, 2010 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  15. Sharon

    I live in Alaska therefore my city is surround by water, I find it extremely hard to believe that a 13 to 18 year old doesn't at least know how to doggie paddle, I learned that when I was at least 3. Water can be extremely dangerous that is why you must take precautions, if you know you don't know how to swim where a life preserver, floaties, anything that will help you stay afloat. I find it hard to believe that there wouldn't be signs posted saying, "Caution water deepens" or something along the lines of that. If there isn't signs should be posted to help prevent tragic events like this from happening. I can't imagine what the families are going through, its tragic, but swimming is a very important part of life, its a need to know how to do thing parents should especially know how to swim if they are thinking about taking their child to places with water.

    August 3, 2010 at 4:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Richie P

      They obviously could "doggie paddle" a little if they managed to keep their heads out of the water long enough call for help. But doggie paddling is useless when the current is dragging you away from where you're trying to paddle to. Since they weren't wearing life jackets (it's call reality, people, nobody wears a life jacket to go wading), the only thing that could have saved them once they lost their footing isformal swimming lessons, and lots of them. Even someone who is right at home swimming in a pool can easily drown in the moving water of a river. If panic sets in and you try to fight the current and doggie paddle back to where you got dragged away, you will lose and drown. Only if you had enough training to not panic could you have a good shot at surviving this.

      August 3, 2010 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
    • RayOfLight

      c'mon sharon, seriously.

      August 3, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • RayOfLight

      just to clarify, i was referring to this whole section...

      >>I find it extremely hard to believe that a 13 to 18 year old doesn't at least know how to doggie paddle, I learned that when I was at least 3. Water can be extremely dangerous that is why you must take precautions, if you know you don't know how to swim where a life preserver, floaties, anything that will help you stay afloat. I find it hard to believe that there wouldn't be signs posted saying, "Caution water deepens" or something along the lines of that. <<

      why would it be so hard to believe that people actually don't know how to swim?
      why would it be so hard to believe that people actually don't have life preservers in their closets at home?
      why would it be so hard to believe that a sign isn't present at every location you could possibly enter the water?

      August 3, 2010 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
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