Swimming holes and rope swings might be quintessential icons of summer, but they're the stuff of frustration for Southbury officials after two people were injured jumping from them in recent weeks.
According to officials, a man was badly hurt at a rope swing flanking the Pomperaug River on July 19. Then, on July 28, a woman was injured at another swing on the edge of Lake Lillinonah.
"Well, the one that I heard about was a cracked skull," First Selectman Ed Edelson told NBC Connecticut, referring to the former of the two incidents. "So that's the most serious one I've heard of."
Edelson says these are the first summertime rope swing injuries he remembers in his four years at his post, but the problem seems to be worsening, perhaps because knowledge of rope swing sites is being spread via social media. In fact, he says, Facebook mentions have drawn visitors from as far away as upstate New York.
"I can only try to impress upon parents throughout, to caution their children that a lot of times these makeshift rope swings are not safe," he said Thursday.
Edelson said the town has repeatedly sent workers to cut the ropes – the one at the Pomperaug River is strung from a seemingly impossible height in the tree canopy – but the jumpers keep coming back.
"What we've typically been doing is getting up as high as we possibly can and cutting them, but as quickly as we cut them down, new ones seem to appear," Edelson said.
Four young men jumping into the water from the Lake Lillinonah rope said they've been cooling off there for weeks, and that cutting the ropes and closing the sites, which are on town land, would be disappointing.
"I just hope they stay up because it's pretty fun for us," said Thomas Calderoni, of Southbury.
His friend, Ryan Lovelett of Southbury, acknowledges that the remote locations are precarious for emergency responders to reach when someone is injured. He said he understands injuries can happen, but the risk can be mitigated by common sense.
"Stay in your own boundaries," he said. "Don't do anything you're not capable of doing, like trying backflips off the ropes or something."