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Officials Warn About Dangers of Swimming in Canals

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Posted: Jul 29, 2013 6:24 PM

Updated: Jul 29, 2013 7:00 PM

WESLACO - Recent drownings at irrigation canals highlight the dangers hidden under the seemingly calm waters, officials said.

The most recent incident happened Sunday in a floodway canal near Santa Rosa. A Weslaco dive team was called to recover the body of Fernando Vasquez, 47. Officials said Vasquez drowned after he jumped into the water to save his stepson.

"A lot of times there's a real bad undercurrent," Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio said.

"The current was so strong ... it carried Mr. Vasquez under," Lucio said.

The dive team recovered Vasquez's body two hours after he went under.

Weslaco Fire Department Lt. Ray Marroquin said the canals are extremely dangerous.

"If they do fall in, fatigue is going to play a big part," Marroquin said.

"Once that fatigue sets in, that's usually when we see them go missing," Marroquin said.

Marroquin said the canals are filled with hazards and traps.

"People lose so much fishing equipment under the water. We run into nets and a lot of fishing line. That's a big problem as well because you can get caught up real quick," Marroquin said.

Marroquin said jumping into the water to save someone should be the last resort. He recommends people include flotation devices along with their fishing gear.

Topics: omar lucio, canal, drowning, fernando vasquez, ray marroquin

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