Weighing new safety measures in wake of drownings at Castlewood State Park

BALLWIN, Mo. – There are new calls to close off part of a state park in St. Louis County after two more drownings over the weekend.

Roadblocks and warning signs have recently replaced the boat access. Warning signs read “swimming and wading not recommend.”

Only a small path flanked by more danger signs leads to the Meramec River with additional warning signs lining the beach.

“Deadly river,” they warn, with a hand reaching from under the water. The top of the signs read: “people drown here, don’t be the next one.”

Rose Shaw, 35, of the Florissant area, drowned here over the weekend while trying to save Deniya Johnson, 12, relatives said.

People nearby saved three others, police said.

Still, heartbreak again took the place of hope as divers recovered two more bodies.

Authorities report at least 16 drownings in the same area since the year 2000.

As with seatbelts, a law requiring life jackets would certainly save lives.

“By and large we know they save lives every single day,” said Chief Michael Krause, the Metro West Fire Protection District. “Instead of having a person that would be lost in the bottom of the river, we might be going down the river in a boat to find them downstream, as they floated downstream and were able to breathe at least, non-swimmers especially.”

Firefighters applaud state officials for the changes already made.

Fox 2/KPLR 11 has reached out to Missouri Governor Mike Parson, State Rep. Kirk Mathews, State Senator Andrew Koenig, and the Department of Natural Resources, but have yet to get responses.

As of Monday evening, the river and the beach at Castlewood remain open.