There have been multiple fatal accidents at the Steel Dam in Milan over the past couple years including one last month that took the lives of two people. Another accident at the Steel Dam leaves some wondering when the next fatal accident will be.
Last night there was another accident where a kayak floated down stream and was sucked underneath the dam. The man was fighting for his life, hanging on the life ring. A floating device was eventually thrown out to rescue him. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources tells Local Four News that the man is okay.
The incident last night is different from previous incidents because the kayak came from down stream and was sucked in, rather than up stream where it would roll over the dam.
“He had launched from down stream and came up to the dam and a low head dam. If you get too close to it, it will suck you in to the dam on the down stream side and of course he got closer than he should have. It sucked him into the dam and flipped his kayak and then he held on for his life.”
Sergeant Tony Petreikis with the DNR says that no matter what they do, this dam continues to be a hazard. There have been talks of putting in a permanent barrier, but he says this won’t solve all the issues.
“The thing is is once you get within… well if you look out there right now about five yards of the dam itself where the water’s coming over that instead of pushing you away from the dam, it actually sucks you back into the dam.”
There is a temporary barrier if you come from up stream, but no protection down stream which is where the kayak came from. The Steel Dam is a popular area for fishing and even standing on the rocks next to the dam has caused some accidents.
“A guy just happened to be out there fishing standing below the dam and he actually got sucked into the dam while he was standing on the rocks. You know and thank goodness there was a tree in the water and he actually climbed on top of the tree right next to the dam.”
Sergeant Petreikis recommends wearing a life vest whenever you go near the dam, but even then it’s still not enough.
“One of the first things I do when I respond to a location like this is I stick a life jacket on. The thing is is in this even then with a life jacket on there’s no guarantees.”
Local Four News has placed multiple calls in to the DNR and the city of Rock Island to find out the purpose of the dam to find out if it even needs to be there. We will continue to follow up on the story.