Keeping Kids away from Canals

March 20, 2008 8:43:43 PM PDT
Nearly one year after nine-year old Yshema Snowden's death, the city is changing its canal safety plan.This small wooden cross marks the spot where little Yshema Snowden fell into the canal and never made it out. That was last May. Now the city says it's working to stop accidents like this ever happening again.

Donna Little, Victim's Neighbor: "It's scary, very scary especially since the little girl died. I'm petrified."

Clutching her grandson Donna Little says she constantly reminds neighbor kids to stay away from this spot where little Yshema Snowden drowned. A soccer ball and other toys now clogging the canal are a big attraction for little ones.

It was another kind of ball that Snowden was going after when she fell in last May. Within weeks the nine-year olds' aunt was calling on city leaders to make all canals safer.

"History's going to repeat itself again."

Now the City and Fresno irrigation district are using half a million dollars once meant for beautifying the canals to make them safer.

Jerry Duncan, Fresno City Council: "We wished we had a way to make sure no one ever suffered the fate that little girl suffered. But we can do our best. That's what we're trying."

The Fresno Irrigation District has identified four spots where kids and canals could be a dangerous combination.

More fencing to keep kids out and a pedestrian bridge will go up behind fort miller middle school not far from where Yshema Snowden drowned. Improvements will also be made along this canal near centennial elementary. Parents say it's about time.

Wendy Baca, Mother: "There's alot of kids going back and forth. With the schools being in between there's always young kids and older kids trying to cross back and forth, trying to play in the canals. I think it would be a really good idea."

Work on all of these canal projects should be finished by the time school opens next fall, but with 300 miles of canals lining Fresno even city leaders admit this is just this beginning.


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