Proposed Changes to Silver Sands Sandbar Following Recent Drowning

Like many people who have grown up near the shoreline in Milford, Annette Petrus remembers venturing out on the sandbar at Silver Sands State Park.

“We made it out to the island,” Petrus said. “Came back and halfway back the sandbar was covered and I had to swim part of the way. I was very frightened, but I made it.”

Ten days ago, 28-year-old George Swaby from Bridgeport did not make it back to the beach after Milford Police said a strong current swept him off the sandbar.

“It just makes you sick when you hear it and this was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, really,” Milford State Rep. Kim Rose said.

Rose told NBC Connecticut she wants the language strengthened and to see the warning signs potentially translated into other languages.

In the last two years, there have been 29 open water rescues by the sandbar, Rose said after she checked in with Milford Police.

“Especially for a non-swimmer,” Rose said. “They can get sucked right into that tide.”

Both Rose and Mayor Ben Blake told NBC Connecticut they would prefer lifeguards on duty seven days a week instead of the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEEP) proposed ten million dollar renovation project.

No lifeguard was on duty the day Swaby drowned.

“DEEP’s statement was even if there were lifeguards they don’t enforce anything there because it’s a no swim zone,” Rose said. “That doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Sarah Mastrone and her family from Trumbull visit Silver Sands a couple times in the summer.

“I just think everyone has to be careful and be aware of what’s happening,” she said. “And not lose track of the time to make sure they can get back in time, but it’s scary.”

Based on her experience when she was younger, Petrus has advice for beachgoers.

“You just need to have common sense, know your tides,” she said. “Know what you’re doing, don’t walk out if you don’t know what you’re walking into.”

Rose, the mayor and Milford first responders plan to meet with DEEP officials to address the dangers of the sandbar on August 8.

“This sand bar does pose dangers to people who walk out in it,” DEEP Communications Director Dennis Schain said in an email. "As a result, we have several signs in that area with strong language warning of these dangers. We believe this to be the most practical approach to addressing this situation - but we are certainly eager to listen to and consider other ideas that Rep. Rose and others may have.”

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