Every year we hear of drownings related to people capsizing their boats in cold water and not having PFD’s on; swimming under the influence; getting caught in currents, etc. But have you ever heard of people drowning due to Milfoil? Check out this news article…
Aug. 5, 2010 - Woman dies after being caught in milfoil A 23-year-old woman died Wednesday (Aug. 4th 2010). She spent several minutes trying to free herself from Milfoil while swimming on Horseshoe Lake.
The Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Office said that Rachell Wood and her friends attempted to swim from the public launch to the waterfalls when they became tangled in milfoil.
Wood’s friends attempted to find her but the water was murky and infested with Milfoil. After trying to retrieve her for a few minutes they flagged down a boat and pulled her from the water.
Wood was transported via Med Star to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, where she was later pronounced dead. With sailors and kayakers getting caught in Milfoil can be just a nuisance of getting it on our rudder blade(s) or paddle, but for swimmers it is a lot more serious.
Every year swimmers get trapped in Milfoil and drown. In the Inland NW in 1992 a 50 year old women drowned on Lake Pend Oreille. In 1999 a 10 year old girl & 12 year old boy drowned in Red Rock Lake due to milfoil. And in 2003 several triathletes almost drowned on the Columbia River near Wenatchee.
Here is how it happens… As milfoil matures it creates a thick canopy where if a swimmer is not aware he can get caught in it. Once a person begins to struggle to get free, the milfoil basically acts like quick sand and pulls him under the water.
If you do accidentally swim into an area with thick Milfoil it is best to stay calm and float still on the surface. Call for help and if you can not get help its best to float flat on the surface and slowly exit from where you came in. Of course the absolutely best thing to do before you swim in any area is to check the area you will be swimming in for hazards and keep clear of it.
In many instances drowning can be prevented via wearing a PFD or taking precautions and knowing your limits. In the case of Milfoil, how many people would think they could potentially drown via getting stuck in it? So now you know. STAY AWAY FROM MILFOIL.