Officials addressed the dangers of the Bolton Potholes after a 21-year-old Burlington man drowned on Saturday. They say it is important to know the dangers before you go to places like this. Stephanie Busch, the Injury Prevention Chief of the Vermont Department of Health says some of the dangers around natural swimming holes and other bodies of water right now is that the water is still really cold, even though the temperature is really hot.
“When we are looking at natural bodies of water, we want to be aware especially right now the extremely cold temperature, the strong currents or undertows that might fatigue a swimmer, and then also the different hidden debris or hidden rocks,” said Busch. Busch says in Vermont, there are around eight unintentional drownings per year in all natural bodies of water.
The Bolton Potholes are a popular swimming hole and public access to the swimming holes is managed by the Vermont River Conservancy. “First I do want to say how deeply saddened VRC is about the tragic death and it hits us hard as managers of the site,” said Richarda Ericson, Deputy Executive Director of the VRC. Ericson says there is not constant monitoring of these sites, but they have signage to educate people if they choose to go.
“Because it is public access and there are no lifeguards, it’s not like going to a swimming pool that you pay entry for and you know that part of the fee pays for lifeguards. This is public access to these places and swim at your own risk, there are no lifeguards on duty.”
Cody Surprise, the 21-year-old who drowned, was pronounced deceased on the scene by Richmond Rescue. Surprise was a full-time student at the University of Vermont and a member of the Vermont Army National Guard. He joined the Guard to continue his family’s legacy of service. Major Scott Detweiler said in a statement, “The entire Vermont National Guard is devastated to learn of the loss of Sgt. Cody Surprise on Saturday, May 21. Surprise recently returned from a deployment to the Horn of Africa with Charlie Troop of the Vermont Army National Guard out of Lyndonville.”
The Guard went on to say they are here to support soldiers, family and, friends seeking assistance through this painful and difficult time.