Legislator calls for changes at Silver Sands
MILFORD » There are five strong warning signs at Silver Sands State Park where the tombolo, or sandbar, to Charles Island begins at the shore.
“Danger” a sign says in big letters. “Sandbar floods twice daily with strong currents and undertow.”
The sign posted by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection stops short of saying not to take the trip to the Island filled with lore, including that Captain Kidd’s buried his treasure there, but goes on to warn: “Do not hike on water covered sandbar.”
Yet, every year around or at low tide, hundreds take the walk on foot to the island over the sandbar covered by rocks and shells freshly tossed by the tide. While the stretch is a sandbar, it is formally a tombolo because it is a bar of sand that attaches the mainland to an island.
Every year there are rescues for people who can’t make it back in time as the tide comes in or can’t make it out to the island as the tide goes out, the latter of which was the circumstance that led to the July 21 drowning death of Bridgeport resident George Swaby, 28, who was hit by a wave and sucked into a current. Swaby was a novice swimmer, but the experts say that strong current can be a challenge for the best swimmers.
Prior to the drowning July 21, the last fatality as a result of the walk was in 2011.
But there are many rescue and distress calls from Silver Sands State Park each year and since June 15, there have been seven 911 dispatch calls for open water rescues, according to data obtained by state Rep. Kim Rose, D-Milford, whose district includes Silver Sands State Park.
Swaby’s drowning has reignited the discussion as to what can be done further to prevent tragedy and close calls.
Rose, has sent a letter to DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee calling for a meeting with Milford leaders soon to discuss safety at the popular spot, and said she’ll consider anything up to banning walkers from the sandbar.
“Unfortunately, this seems to be a tragic or near-tragic story we hear of all way too often. The 2,500-foot-long tombolo has been notorious for putting lives at risk, and it’s unusual for a summer to go by without at least several emergencies,” Rose wrote to Klee.