2001-08-04 / Editorial/Opinion

A Shared Responsibility?

A Shared Responsibility?

Now that the bodies of the three young girls who were swept away from the beach last week have been recovered, the focus of the tragedy turns to the question of responsibility. There are those whose stated belief is that the city or its Parks Department are somehow responsible because the hours that lifeguards that are on duty are not reasonable. They argue that there should be larger, more emphatic signs in a multiplicity of languages. They argue that this dangerous stretch of beach, inside the channel, should be closed to bathers entirely. There are those who believe that the tragedy is somehow "racist" because three young Moslem girls were involved and there were no signs on the beach in their native language to warn them of potential danger. There are those who blame the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who dredged the channel that caused the rip current that took them under. Each of these groups may have some responsibility for the early morning tragedy. The ultimate responsibility, however, we believe, lies with the girl’s uncle. The signs warning that swimming was not allowed during the times that lifeguards were not on duty were plainly posted and obvious to anybody entering the beach through the dunes in that area. Had the uncle read the signs and looked to the left and to the right, he would have seen that there were no lifeguards on duty. In that area, the lifeguard stands are a mere 25 yards apart. All he had to then do is to say to the girls, "Do not go near the water until the lifeguards come." That is what all parents and guardians of children who come to our beaches should do. If he had done that, the girls would be alive today and our beaches would not be under attack.

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