Indiana Department of Natural Resources - Stay safe while swimming this summer

Saturday, July 6, 2024
IVY JACOBS PHOTO - This is one of the signs at the Chinook Fish & Wildlife area near Staunton; it is a site for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The former strip coal mine area has many strip pits filled with water, which can be dangerous. Clay County has many of these types of areas, and officials urge the public to be safe when in these areas.

With Summer here, Indiana Conservation Officers remind Hoosiers that water safety is within their control, and it’s crucial to prioritize it now and throughout the summer.

On May 19, the DNR worked to recover the body of a Terre Haute man who went under the water and did not resurface at Chinook Fish & Wildlife Area (FWA) in Staunton. 

Shortly before 8:30 p.m. Sunday, conservation officers used sonar to recover the body of Micah T. Harrison, 19, in 14 feet of water.

Harrison was pronounced dead on the scene by the Clay County Coroner. The cause of death is pending autopsy results.

Other assisting agencies included the Clay County Sheriff’s Department, Posey Fire Department, and Medic 9 Star Ambulance.

Conservation officers remind the public that swimming on DNR-managed properties is only permitted in designated swimming areas, ensuring your safety and enjoyment.


While the water may look refreshing, it can be deceptively deep and dangerously cold. Steep, slippery walls can make exiting the water difficult.

If you are a mineral collector, hiker, recreational vehicle rider, swimmer, or curious person, you have no business entering an abandoned or inactive mine or quarry. Numerous accidents and fatalities have occurred due to such ventures, with people getting trapped, injured, or succumbing to the harsh conditions inside.

There are approximately 14,000 active mines and about 500,000 abandoned mines nationwide. There are mines in every state, so encountering an active or abandoned mine is likely in those areas.

Furthermore, the safety initiative’s primary mission is to remind people of the only key safety practice when encountering an active or abandoned mine site: STAY OUT—STAY ALIVE. 

Follow these basic water safety tips while near a strip pit or quarry:

Discuss the dangers of water with your family and loved ones before going out.

Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.

Go with a buddy., and pay attention to signage.

Stay away from flooded or fast-moving waterways.

Wear a life jacket.

Keep an extra watchful eye on children.

Avoid alcohol.


If you go boating, know the rules and boat safely. Reduce speed in unfamiliar areas and be aware of unusual water conditions relevant to your size and type of boat. These are not only safety tips but also important environmental considerations, as they can help prevent beach erosion. Regardless of your boat type, assess water levels before going out and monitor your speed while underway.

Designate a sober boat operator. Alcohol causes impaired balance, blurred vision, poor coordination, impaired judgment, and slower reaction time. Wave action, sun exposure, and wind can magnify these effects. It is illegal to operate a motorboat or personal watercraft in Indiana while intoxicated due to alcohol or drugs. Indiana law defines intoxication as having a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or greater.


Each life jacket should be United States Coast Guard approved, in good working condition, and in a size appropriate for the wearer. New life jackets are designed to be lighter, less obtrusive, and more comfortable than those of the past. Inflatable life jackets allow mobility and flexibility for activities like boating, fishing, or paddling and can be much cooler in warmer weather than older-style life jackets.

Water-filled quarries and pits hide rock ledges, machinery, electrical currents, and other hazards. The water may look refreshing but can be deceptively deep and dangerously cold. Steep, slippery walls can make exiting the water difficult.

“With the kickoff to summer upon us, all Hoosiers are urged to recognize the danger water poses and make water safety the utmost priority,” said Capt. Jet Quillen of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Division of Law Enforcement. 

To learn more about boating education and safety, see

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