Boat barrier missing from Steel Dam


The search is over for the 5-year-old girl who went missing at the steel dam one week ago, but Local 4 News is still asking questions.

An investigation by Local 4 News revealed there should be something in place before the Steel Dam to stop people from getting pulled in: a boat barrier. 

A viewer told Local 4 News it was missing, so we found the reports to prove it. 

There should be a 850-foot barrier marked with orange safety buoys in front of the dam, according to the 2018 public safety report submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The City of Rock Island’s Public Works department is supposed to install it on May 15 every year and take it down on October 15.

Rock Island Public Works Director Larry Cook said the barrier hasn’t been put up this year because the river has been too high — sending his crews out there now would put them in danger. He said it’s horrible that last week’s incident happened while the barrier was done. 

However, looking through the reports Local 4 News noticed this wasn’t the first time someone died at the Steel Dam when the barrier was down.

In 2013, heavy rain fall and trash damaged the barrier and 13 days later a man drowned after riding his jet ski over the dam.

Cook said at this point he is not sure when they will be able to install the barrier. River level forecasts project it will still be 10.6 feet high on July 1. He said his crews have to wait until it falls below 9.4 feet. 

Cook said people should avoid the area until the barrier is installed.

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