A rural Wisconsin Dells man drowned Aug. 7 in the Wisconsin River at Newport Park, the second drowning in the river near Wisconsin Dells this summer.
According to Lake Delton Police Lt. William Laughlin, first responders were sent to Newport Park in the early afternoon for a report of a man around the age of 50 struggling in the water.
“The report was that a male went into the water to help out a family member that was struggling, that male subsequently went under the water,” Laughlin said at the scene. “First responders got on scene and assessed the issues, and were able to recover the man from the water at 1:25 p.m.”
According to a press release sent later in the afternoon from the Lake Delton Police Department, the man died on scene despite life-saving efforts from first responders. The press release contradicted Laughlin’s assessment that the man was trying to help a family member, saying the victim was wading in shallow water and encountered a sudden drop-off.
“The man was witnessed struggling in the water and went under before bystanders could reach him,” Lake Delton Police Chief Daniel Hardeman said in the release. “The victim, a rural Wisconsin Dells man, was enjoying the day at Newport Park with his family. The name of the victim is being withheld pending notification of family.”
There was no lifeguard posted at Newport Beach, as it is a “swim at your own risk area” according to Laughlin. To his knowledge, there are no lifeguards posted along public swim areas in the Wisconsin River.
In June, Jamison Miller went missing in the Wisconsin River near Chapel Gorge Trail, a Wisconsin State Natural Area just north of Wisconsin Dells. The 11-year-old boy from Grand Marsh was visiting the area with family and apparently drowned. His body was found 6 days after he went missing at the Kilbourn Dam, about two miles downstream from the trail.
In 2016, a 21-year-old Baraboo man drowned at Newport Park after attempting to swim across the river from the beach. Authorities recommend people using the river wear life jackets — even in areas marked as safe for swimming — as strong currents, shifting sediment and other submerged objects can create unexpected hazards.