Campbell and Whittington call for safety barriers at spillways

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BOSSIER CITY, La. – The tragic drowning of a popular 15-year-old Bossier Parish boy fishing on Lake Bistineau last week highlights the need for safety barriers at spillways on state-operated waterbodies, according to Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington.

Currents can be swift and unpredictable where impoundments hold back water on manmade lakes, Campbell said.  Louisiana can prevent needless drownings at these spillways with floating safety barriers or similar devices.

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Campbell made his case in a letter to Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Jack Montoucet.  Campbell wrote Montoucet one week after 15-year-old Hayden Lane Mangum of Elm Grove drowned while fishing with a friend at the Lake Bistineau spillway on Louisiana Highway 154.

It is “imperative,” Campbell wrote Montoucet, that the state secure areas near spillways “to prevent another tragedy from occurring.”

Whittington visited the scene of the drowning with responders from his office.

“Since this tragic event last week, I have spoken to our state officials about making this area safer for boaters,” he said.  “The water current around this spillway is deceiving.

“Better warning signs and barriers of some type are desperately needed and could have possibly prevented this tragic accident from happening.”

Mangum was a sophomore football and baseball player at Calvary Baptist Academy in Shreveport. Investigators said Mangum and a 16-year-old friend were fishing near the Bistineau spillway when one of the boys got his bait hung up.  As they tried to free the line their boat was swept over the spillway and capsized.

The 16-year-old survived but Mangum did not.  His body was found hours later near the spillway.