We would appreciate it if The Times Argus would print this warning about the danger of the swimming hole on our property in Putnamville, just south of Worcester village, known as the Putnamville Falls.
Saturday an adult man drowned at the falls after spending the day there with friends and family. The only blessing in this tragedy is that his 10-year-old stepson, who was also caught in the current under the falls, at the same time, survived. But the events of Saturday resulted in this family and their friends losing a partner, a father and stepfather and a friend. Their lives are now irreparably changed by tragedy.
This is the second time my husband has pulled a drowning victim out of the falls awaiting the arrival of rescue squads and state police, and my first. Having multiple people lose their lives in separate traumatic events on your property is impossible to describe and, sadly, has become a part of our sense of home. This feeling for us will never compare to the tragedy and loss experienced by the family members of those who have drowned here. Our hearts are with this family and their friends. We will never forget what happened to them here and the impact it will have on their lives.
We’ve made great efforts to keep people from coming to the falls over the years, spreading the word that the falls is closed to swimming, posting “No trespassing” and “Danger” signs, which are torn down, to writing letters to the Wrightsville Reservoir beach, where many people access the falls by kayaking or canoeing up the reservoir and river and then onto our property to access the falls, asking them to remind people it’s a very dangerous place. None of these has made much difference. People still come to the falls, to swim, party or just hang out. They may or may not understand that they’re trespassing or that there’s very dangerous currents in the pools of the falls that have taken multiple lives.
We feel a strong need to be clear about the falls after this latest tragedy. Most importantly, this is not a safe place to swim, to bring children to, or to party at. Both of the pools at the falls have a very strong circular current that sucks a swimmer in and traps them underwater. The location of this current changes with the rising and falling water levels of the river, making it unpredictable to even those who feel familiar with it. Every summer there are incidents of people getting caught in this current. Most of them are pulled out safely or get out of it on their own. Others do not, and they lose their lives.
Please don’t come to the Putnamville Falls. There are many beautiful places to swim and hang out in central Vermont that are safe and public. The falls is not one of them. It’s surrounded by the private property of the homeowners of Putnamville. These events happen in our yards and backyards. We recognize that navigable waterways in Vermont are public domain. The falls is not a navigable waterway.
For those people who come to the falls from the Wrightsville Reservoir, we request that you stay well below the falls, their pools and the rock outcroppings that surround them, in the flat and safe area where the river ends as it approaches the falls to the north. We are recommitted to asking anyone who comes onto our property to access the falls to leave, and we ask central Vermont residents to understand and respect this.
Richard and Genevieve Drutchas
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