Local News

Jul 14, 2010 11:06 PM by Ariel Wesler

Swimming holes pose hidden dangers

A 20-year-old is in serious condition at Cottage hospital tonight after jumping 80-feet into five feet of water.

It happened yesterday at the Red Rock swimming hole, a popular summer spot east of Lake Cachuma in the Santa Ynez Valley. Witnesses say the man tried to do a backflip off Red Rock's highest point, landed on his back and reported not being able to feel anything from the waist down.

Swimming holes are popular places to cool down during these hot summer days and a perfect place for thrill seekers.

"To jump off is pretty intense," said Ricardo Ganivet, visiting from Oxnard.

Red Rock is the tallest at around 80 feet.

"Yesterday I went the highest I had ever gone and it took me a while to get down," said Mattie Wark from Vandenberg.

11-year old Mattie Wark and her mom have been cooling off all week and were at Red Rock when a 20-year-old jumped from the top, landing in five feet of water. Witnesses say he tried do a flip and landed on his back.

"From what people were saying, he couldn't move or feel his lower extremities. . . Kids need to really think, especially these college kids that don't have the fear," said Mandie Maestas from Vandenberg.

"What's life without taking risks," Ganivet said.

But the Forest Service says it's that kind of thinking that can land you in trouble.

"They're not swimming pools and so one, the water is not clear. You can't see the bottom and then the bottom of the river has lots of obstructions and they're constantly changing," said Kerry Kellogg with the U.S. Forest Service.

Sandstone is another local hotspot. It's not as tall as Red Rock--about 30 feet, but the dangers are the same.

"If you're not a good swimmer, you might be waist deep and find yourself overhead with just one step," Kellogg said.

Swimming holes aren't just for those looking for the adventurous. Some also enjoyed a little rest and relaxation.

There have been at least six drownings and many more injuries at Red Rock in the last 25 years. Two dangers in these kinds of circumstances are peer pressure and alcohol.

The USFS prefers people don't jump at all, but says if you do, know your limits.

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