Swimming the St. Croix River channel is riskyAt its next meeting, the Public Safety Committee of the Hudson City Council is expected to discuss how to dissuade people from attempting to swim across the St. Croix River channel from the end of the dike road to the Minnesota shore.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
At its next meeting, the Public Safety Committee of the Hudson City Council is expected to discuss how to dissuade people from attempting to swim across the St. Croix River channel from the end of the dike road to the Minnesota shore.
The discussion comes after a Lake Elmo, Minn., youth who had just graduated from Stillwater Area High School became the latest person to lose his life in the river.
Alexander Cook, 18, drowned trying to swim across the 200-yard channel with his girlfriend, his brother and two friends on the afternoon of June 18.
The tragic loss of life saddened Alderperson Lori Bernard, who wants the public to be aware of the danger of swimming in that stretch of the river.
The Minnesota shore is an alluring goal for swimmers, Bernard said. While the other side appears easy to reach through placid water, a strong current moves through the river channel, she said.
Hudson Fire Chief Jim Frye, the incident commander for the early effort to rescue Cook, agreed with Bernard.
“The velocity of the water speeds up to get around the end of the dike,” Frye said. “So when they start swimming for the other side, they find themselves swimming upstream against the current, and it becomes farther than what they anticipated.”
Frye said the speed and strength of the current was noticeable when rescue boats dropped anchor in the operation to recover Cook’s body.
With the high water level of the river, the channel current is even stronger than normal.
Frye said a man also drowned last summer in a similar manner in that area of the river.
Police Chief Marty Jensen said nine people have drowned in the St. Croix River in the Hudson area since 2002.
“We don’t recommend that people try to swim across the channel,” Jensen said.
Cook’s guardian, Amber Hageman of Lake Elmo, Minn., told the Star Tribune newspaper that he had just participated in his high school commencement program, but hadn’t picked up his diploma yet.
“He didn’t even get to see it. I picked it up this morning,” Hageman was quoted as saying in the Minneapolis newspaper.