Mother of woman who drowned in Trinity River Park wants more safety measures

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by MONIKA DIAZ

WFAA

Posted on January 18, 2013 at 12:15 AM

FORT WORTH -- The low-water dams in Trinity River Park offer an opportunity for fishermen to reel in the catch of the day, and for families, it’s the chance to get close to the water to take pictures.

For Brandy Johnson, the walk across one of the dams turned deadly Wednesday afternoon. She was on her way to a job interview at Park Plaza. The 19 year old was five months pregnant.

Brandy’s mother, Shakara Johnson, wants to see more safety measures in the area to save lives.

“It shouldn’t be accessible,” Johnson said. "It shouldn't either be accessible, or they need to make it safe.”

It’s the third drowning in three years at the park. All of them happened in the same spot. The previous two incidents occurred when parents were trying to rescue children who fell into the river.

The Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) told News 8 the dam where Brandy died is not a crossing. There are safety signs on both sides of the dam. The only "no crossing" sign is 60 feet away from shore. It's anchored on the rocks.

“It's a 'no walking' sign,” said Chad Lorance from the Tarrant Regional Water District, the agency that maintains the river. “We want people to realize that it's not made to walk across.”

The district said adding other safety signs on the dam would require approval from the Army Corps of Engineers, and they could produce another problem.

“We don't want to put something in there that’s going to prohibit the way the floodway is supposed to work,” Lorance said. “If we have a huge flood and we have several structures that are catching debris, it potentially compromises the levee system and we don’t want to do that.”

News 8 checked the other low-water dams inside the park. One of them got our attention because there was a sign with a double warning. It advised people to watch their children, and it also warned against crossing it if there’s flooding.

We asked TRWD if other "no crossing" signs could be added to the safety sign poles already in the ground at the dam where Brandy Johnson died.

The district said "as with any incident, it will continue to look at safety measures."

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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