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Officials provide precautions for low-head dams after the accidental death of an 11-year-old boy

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    HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (WPMT) — An 11-year-old boy died on Thursday night due to an accidental drowning near a low-head dam in Codorus Creek in York County.

Low-head dams can be very dangerous and Rep. Keith Gillespie says the effects of the water can be crucial.

“What happens after a period of time, the hydraulics will actually spit the victim out, Gillespie said, “It may be within a couple of seconds when they still have an opportunity to live or it may be hours or days.”

The boy’s death has strengthened the support of Gillespie’s bill, House Bill 1003.

The bill provides the Pennsylvania Fish and Boating Commission (PFBC) with greater enforcement for the markings of low-head dam signs.

“It gives us greater authority to hold the owners of dams accountable if the dams are not marked properly for the safety of boaters,” said Mike Parker, PFBC communications director.

Parker also advises taking caution when participating in water activities as the weather gets nicer.

“Just because it’s a really sunny day and it’s warm outside and the air feels good,” if you fall in the water, that water is going to be bone-chilling frigid cold, and you could be feeling the effects of hypothermia almost instantly,” Parker said.

For this reason, from Nov. 1 through April 30, the PFBC is requiring anyone boarding a small boat under 16 feet to wear a life jacket.

“If you don’t have a life jacket to keep your head above water so you can cough that water out, and possibly recover, it’s a very slim chance you’re going to survive,” Parker said.

Gillespie hopes people understand the reason for House Bill 1003 and adheres to precaution to protect others.

“Here we lost an 11-year-old boy last night and the 30-some up in Harrisburg over the course of several decades and that’s serious business and if it was somebody’s loved one, I think it would really take offense to that,” said Gillespie

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