Water Safety Concerns Raised After Drowning

- HEBER SPRINGS, AR -- A drowning at an Arkansas beach is raising concerns about water safety at one of the area's most popular lakes.

A Searcy man drowned at Sandy Beach inside Greers Ferry Lake this week.

People visiting the beach today said they felt safer knowing a lifeguard was on duty.

Joe Bryant said, "The kids we were playing with today, several times they went to the deep water and if they were by themselves...it would've been a struggle, and there's a lot of kids at this beach."

There's a lifeguard at Sandy Beach Thursday through Sunday only.

On Wednesday, a drowning occurred when a man swam past a yellow border, designated safe for swimmers.

Heber Springs mayor Jackie McPherson says if a lifeguard had been on duty, they would've told the victim to stay behind the border.

Two years ago, there was another drowning at this beach and that is when the city decided to hire lifeguards, after residents raised safety concerns.

But budget limitations allow them to work only four days a week.

Mayor McPherson said, "Ultimately our goal is to have lifeguards here every day, but again, we're a small community, we have to find the funding."

Just this year, the city of Heber Springs also added a life jacket station as another way to keep the swimmers safe in the water.

They're free for both adults and children to borrow.

But people we talked to say while the life jackets are a great safety tool, they would prefer a lifeguard on duty seven days a week.

The mayor did say he'll look into an on-duty lifeguard seven days a week, but at this point, money to make that happen isn't in the budget.

Another struggle in the small community of Heber Springs according to the mayor is finding qualified people to fill the lifeguard jobs.

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