Law enforcement warns of currents at popular Sabine River swim spot

Published: Sep. 2, 2022 at 10:01 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Several people have drowned at a popular swimming spot on the Sabine River. Law enforcement has a message for those planning to head to the water this Labor Day weekend.

It’s hard to imagine Friday’s calm waters are the reason three men and a child lost their lives last weekend.

“It takes people in a heartbeat,” Stacy Little said. “Like you lost them in a heartbeat. I have a granddaughter who doesn’t even understand.”

The tragedy took place at a popular swimming spot on the Sabine River near Palmer Lake Road, a spot known to law enforcement as nothing but dangerous.

“One thing lead to another, and four adults and a child were taken,” deputy sheriff Marvin Whiddon said.

Troy McCullough, Austin Scott and Kelly Bailey drowned after attempting to save the lives of several people, including Bailey’s step-son, four-year-old Bently Fountain, who also died.

A member of the Beauregard sheriff’s dive team tells 7News that the river’s currents, especially in this particular area, can be very strong and can rapidly change within hours due to the use of energy generators at Toledo Bend dam.

“There were several spots we couldn’t dive; it was really rough,” Whiddon said. “The current will just wrap you like a washing machine.”

On a virtual call with Kelly Bailey’s mother Stacy Little tells 7News, the sudden death of her son was a shock, but it was no surprise he was saving another person’s life.

“He lifts Keeley up to hold on to a limb and tells her ‘baby don’t let go’, and she grabs the limb, and he goes after Austin and Bently,” Little said. “So, it’s not a surprise any of them did it knowing who they are and how they are. They would do it again.”

Ahead of a busy Labor Day weekend, many may want to head out for a day on the water.

“Best if you can, don’t go,” Whiddon said.

Law enforcement warns of the dangers when swimming at your own risk.

“Pay attention to your surroundings,” Whiddon said. “Stay in the shallow, don’t go down the river. Like I said, the current is so bad, you’ll wear out trying to swim across and that gets a lot of people.”

Some of the victims’ families have set up GoFundMe campaigns for funeral expenses. You can donate below: