Water deserves a little respect

Skies were blue yesterday afternoon and created a sharp contrast between it and the greening trees which spring have been. I spent the afternoon hanging outside with some friends where I live. I think I even managed to get a slight sunburn on my cheeks.

While my friends and I were hanging out enjoying ourselves, not so far away from us were people gathered on the Neches River bank just outside of our city Beaumont, Texas. These folks were grimly waiting for a body to be retrieved from the stream’s dark waters. Authorities believe the body was that of 39-year-old Dexter Jones who went missing more than a week ago while hanging with a friend. They had reportedly been drinking on the river banks at night when Jones disappeared. Police are treating the case as a homicide, according to the local Beaumont Enterprise newspaper.

Meanwhile, a missing boater just a ways up the river from where the Jones body was purportedly recovered. Family members told the Enterprise that 56-year-old Dennis Foster was found alive in a park.

So the same river delivered both great and tragic results despite different circumstances that put the two men in the water. There is not much more of a conclusion to be drawn from these two stories other than both men went into the same water body. But even if the Jones case turns out to be a result of foul play, one must still maintain a healthy respect for a great piece of our earth that can cause the direst of outcomes either through deliberate or other means.

I covered my share of stories in my past life as a newspaper reporter in which people lost their lives in the water. One of the most breathtaking was when two small kids were found floating alive in the water on their tiny life preservers after spending several hours in a small power plant lake near Waco. The little boys told the folks who plucked them from the water that their Dad was gone as his boat apparently sunk.

Draw whatever conclusions you want from these stories but the message is the same. Water is great to drink and can be a lot of fun on which to recreate but it can also be quite a dangerous force for those who aren’t paying attention to or are not knowing what they are doing. So like Sgt. Phil Esterhaus used to say on “Hill Street Blues,” “Let’s be careful out there.”

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