12-Year-Old boy drowned in residential Kaukauna pond

Local News

Members of a Wisconsin family are devastated after losing their 12-year-old son to drowning Tuesday night. The family is now asking for safer retention ponds as they say it could have saved their son’s life.

Paul Evansen reports: A family is mourning the loss of their oldest son today.

His birthday’s tomorrow. If it wasn’t for the Good Samaritan, we could have lost more than one boy.

Jason Tapio, Father

The boy was one of four brothers who had gone to the pond to return a turtle that had been saved from a nearby roadway. Three of the boys ventured into the pond that, at it’s deepest, would have been several feet over their heads. The boys’ parents now wondering if more can be done to improve safety at similar ponds throughout the area.

Tapio: “If you’re walking down that way at night, you could easily walk right into it. I mean, it goes from the hill to there and then there’s little rocks, and it drops down. They said it goes down about 14 feet. I was walking around trying to find him last night, and I almost slid down.”

The city of Appleton alone has 50 different storm water ponds designed to be collection basins during heavy rainfalls. Even though the ponds are constructed with a shallow shelf, that during the dry seasons should only be less than a foot deep, with bursts of heavy rains the depth can change dramatically in a very short period of time.

Paula Vandehey, Director of Public Works: “Those are typically the situations where we see the ponds fill up very quickly.  So it can change from, again, a seven foot deep pond to fifteen feet within matters of a half hour, maybe an hour.”

All the city’s ponds have similar built in safety measures as well as signage, and although fencing was discussed early on the recreational use of many of the ponds has prevented those fences from going up.

Vandehey, “When talking, we said we can use signage. We can design it with the safety shelf and do what we can to make them safe, but still really have them accessible for that fishing recreational component.”

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