Sioux Falls park adopts safety measures after child drowned

June 20, 2019

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Viewing platforms and walkways with railings are being installed at a Sioux Falls park where a 5-year-old Iowa girl drowned last year.

The move follows a consultant’s study that recommended improving safety at Falls Park after the death of Maggie Zaiger, who fell into the Big Sioux River and drowned. The city set aside $300,000 to cover the cost, the Argus Leader reported.

Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said the new safety measures should allow visitors of all ages and mobility to enjoy the park.

At least 10 people have drowned in the falls area since 1980, the newspaper reported. Maggie was the third person to drown at the park since 2013.

A review commissioned by the city’s insurance company last year found that the river’s foam buildup near a pedestrian bridge obscures the edge of rocks and the steep drop into the water. Viewing platforms and safety railings were recommended to allow visitors to experience the rapid water while deterring them from being on the rocks.

When construction began in May, there were concerns about obstruction of the park’s natural beauty. But Mark Patten, the city’s park development specialist, noted that the design team chose rustic-looking railing that won’t conflict with the surroundings.

“We tried to make the improvements as seamless as possible. We didn’t want a big bulky structure,” Patten said, adding that the platforms will provide optimal views of the river.

He said construction should be complete within the next couple of weeks, weather permitting.


Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com