No changes forthcoming after Water Works Park drowning

No changes will be made in staffing or in the hours at Amerson Water Works Park after a 41-year-old man drowned in the Ocmulgee River Thursday.

Mike Ford, the president of NewTown Macon, said the organization evaluated park hours after Azfar Jaffry’s death and decided that they were adequate. The park is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

There is no full-time employee at the park, and Ford said there has been no discussion of hiring one.

Security at the park consists of a combination of NewTown Macon staff and patrols by deputies from the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.

Ford said he and the other NewTown Macon employees were saddened by the accident.

“Our sympathy goes out to the family,” he said.

Jaffry drowned during an evening outing on the river with his 7-year-old son, Moeez, his 45-year-old brother, Asad, and a co-worker.

Asad Jaffry told a Telegraph reporter that his brother and nephew were about to get out of the water about 7 p.m. They knew the park was about to close, but a park employee was cleaning a nearby area and told them they could stay in the water for a few more minutes.

Neither father nor son could swim, so they had been floating on rafts, but Azfar Jaffry decided to walk out into foot-deep water without the raft. What he didn’t know was that about 15 feet out, the water was 10 feet deep.

When he began to struggle, Asad Jaffry went after his brother, but he was unable to save him and had to be rescued himself by the park worker.

The tragedy underscores the need for precaution any time someone is in the water.

Josh Rowland, an aquatic specialist for the American Red Cross, said anyone who does not know how to swim should always wear a life jacket, even if wading in only knee-deep water.

Rowland also said swimmers should make sure they are in an area approved for swimming.

“If you’re going to be doing an activity, make sure the area is approved for that activity,” he said.

Swimming areas will often have markers to show the depth of water to prevent someone from encountering a sudden drop-off.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources offered the following tips on swimming safely in natural bodies of water, which include:

Always swim with a buddy.

Know your swimming limits and stay within them. Don’t try to keep up with a stronger swimmer.

Always keep your eye on small children when swimming.

To contact writer Liz Bibb, call 744-4425.