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Altus man drowns

Altus_In a tragedy that could have been prevented, 31 year old Jeremy Struck drowned in an old irrigation ditch.  Sunday, Struck went swimming with his sister's children in the dangerous water.  He swam under the surface and didn't come back up.  The Struck family is mourning the loss of Jeremy who just had a birthday Saturday.  Now, two days later, they're busy preparing for his memorial service.

The irrigation system in Altus was built before most of the homes in the city, so when Altus started growing, they just built around it.  It's a dangerous situation because when it's time to water crops, that water is flowing fast from the lake and can easily take a person down.  "On the surface, the water doesn't seem to be very fast," said Tom Buchanan, Manager of the Lugert Altus Irrigation District. "But, once a person is swimming, it's moving pretty quick and very strong."

When it's time to water the crops in Southwest Oklahoma, they get the water from Lake Lugert.  This flow of water is much faster and deeper than an average river.  It's moving 300 cubic feet per second; the equivalent of about two miles per hour.  Jeremy Struck didn't have a chance.

Buchanan says even though the water is only moving about two miles an hour, that's all it takes.  "We're very saddened by the recent occurrence," he says.  "But it puts a refocus, so to speak, on the inherent dangers of the (irrigation) system."  It's with those dangers in mind that the federal property is posted "no trespassing".  The Struck family misses their son and wants everyone to stay away from those waterways.

But, how can a tragedy like this be prevented?  Even though the no trespassing signs are posted, someone may decide to take a risk.  The Irrigation District says swimming in these canals is against the law, so, if you see anyone swimming in them, call 911.

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