In an update to a story we posted on KJAN.com and our related social media sites Thursday night, divers late that same evening recovered the body of a female who drowned while swimming in the West Nishnabotna River near Cold Springs State Park south of Lewis, in Cass County, Wednesday night. Cass County9-1-1 Director Rob Koppert told KJAN News a 31-year old western Iowa female was out with some friends and family in an area known as the “Rock Cuts.” He said the woman “apparently got herself into a situation where she couldn’t get herself out of, and unfortunately drowned.” The incident was reported to authorities at around 9:15-p.m., Wednesday. Her body was recovered at around 11:24-p.m. The woman’s name has not yet been released. Koppert said early this (Thursday) morning, that they were still looking into getting ahold of the victim’s relatives. He said it’s likely the name will be released sometime before noon today.
The area known as the “Rock Cuts” is popular destination for family picnics and swimming during the summer, but it is very remote, and has dangerous currents. Koppert said “Unfortunately, where the Rock Cuts are….because of the currents, it’s awfully deep there…about 30-to 40-feet deep.” The currents can create a whirlpool effect, and create a “Very dangerous situation,” even if you are very good swimmer.” The same site was also where a four-year old Atlantic boy drowned in July, 2005.
Koppert said families with children need to keep eyes on them at all times. He said if you are going to go to the Rock Cut area, keep in mind it is very accessible only on foot or with an ATV. Rescuers have issues getting to the scene, because it is three-quarters of a mile from the nearest access road, and they can’t easily bring their vehicles and equipment to the area fast enough to effectively safe the life of a drowning victim. Because the remoteness of the site complicates rescue efforts, Koppert recommends people not swim in the area, at all.
A few hours before the Cass County incident, three children, ages nine and seven, drowned while swimming in the Iowa River, near Marshalltown. Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper says the two girls, one 7 and the other 9, and one 7-year-old boy found Wednesday night, were family members. Authorities searched the river for more than three hours after they were separated from others who were swimming. Tupper said the search effort there was also hampered because of the difficulty in rescuers getting to the location in the river where the children went under the water. Tupper says drought has left the river shallow, and difficult to launch a rescue boat. There are places where it’s only ankle deep, but other pockets of 12-plus feet of water. No names have been released in connection with that incident. Last month, another child drowned in the same river about two miles away.
On Sunday, a Council Bluffs man died after jumping out of a boat in a Sarpy County, NE, lake, and failed to resurface. The body of 34-year old Michael Hartsook was recovered at around 7:30-p.m. Tuesday, by some of the same members of the Midwest Regional Dive Team who searched the West Nishnabotna River Wednesday night for the latest drowning victim. The dive team is comprised of members from Cass and Ringgold Counties, along with the Red Oak and Clarinda Fire Departments. Also aiding in the Cass County Rescue efforts, was the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, Atlantic Fire & Rescue, Lewis 1st Responders, Griswold Rescue, Medivac Paramedic Ambulance Service, Cass County Emergency Management, the Iowa State Patrol.