BURLINGTON, KS (KSNT) – Three Kansas residents are dead after boating near the Burlington Park Dam on the Neosho River.
The family didn’t see the waterfall as they were boating. According to the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism, the boat stalled and the driver lost control approaching the dam. The boat went over the dam, flipped and the whole family was thrown out of the boat.
Westley Sharp of Shawnee was rescued from the scene by the Water Rescue Division of the Coffey County Fire District No. 1 and transported to the Burlington Hospital. Maribel Moran and two children, ages 3 and 5, were unresponsive at the time of the rescue. They were then taken to Burlington Hospital and pronounced dead.
Burlington locals are familiar with the powerful waters around the Burlington City Dam, but for those traveling from out of town, that isn’t always the case.
“The water yesterday here at the city dam, I mean, the turbulence is unimaginable. The power of the water,” Chris Hammond, a Burlington resident said.
Officials said the power of the Neosho River waters can be devastating.
“The situation can become a bit more dangerous, things happen more quickly and you may not be able to correct as easily as you normally would in still waters,” David Simonetti, Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks & Tourism, said.
The John Redmond Reservoir is controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. It can fluctuate to become a powerful source in a matter of minutes.
The water was much lower this morning because of the water rescue performed. Burlington residents said having a backup plan on the water is the key to safety.
“That way if it does happen you have a next step that you can truly take and maybe save a life,” Hammond said.
This is an ongoing investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism.