Hidden dangers near culverts

Search teams in the water near Tabor Drive in Branford (WTNH / Tom Parent)

BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Chief Tom Mahoney with the Branford Fire Department is getting the message out about the hidden dangers near culverts.

culvert2 Hidden dangers near culvertsChief Mahoney said, “They look very calm and peaceful during times of lower tide or incoming tide where the water is moving slowly but in those initial couple hours that’s huge volumes of water moving through there and extremely dangerous.”

On Friday, 10-year-old Ben Callahan got swept through a pipe and drowned while playing with his two brothers.culvert4 Hidden dangers near culverts

“One young man either slipped or somehow got into the water and was immediately swept through the pipe and his brother heroically tried to save his life and unfortunately, lost his in the process, but that’s how fast it could happen,” said Chief Mahoney.

The drainage pipe is underneath the street and the water flows through it. The flow of the water creates a powerful vortex.

Chief Mahoney said, “If you can think about a bath tub and you let the drain out and you see that spinning vortex that is sucking the water down the drain, the same situation exists often in these areas.” He added culverts can be found anywhere in the state, especially in coastal areas.

culvert3 Hidden dangers near culvertsChief Mahoney said, “These exist naturally as well so you may have a narrowing in a river and you’ll see the velocity of the water increase and anywhere you have moving water, that’s the danger.” He added anywhere you have moving water there is a danger.

He said, “Wherever you have a small road passing over a small creek or stream, it’s best not to play near that area.” Chief Mahoney told NEWS8 it is best to avoid any of these areas.

“Nobody is going to fight the current. And the best message is to stay away from them all together,” said Chief Mahoney.


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