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Warnings after canal drowning

Gates, N.Y. - First responders are warning people to not swim in the Erie Canal after  21-year-old Christopher James of Rochester, drowned on Thursday shortly after jumping in the water from an old, unused bridge near Buffalo Road and the Chili Avenue Bridge.

"That canal is a very dangerous body of water," said Derek Hardy, Deputy Chief at the Gates Fire Department. "It looks calm but underneath the surface, the current is moving quickly."

Hardy also said the murkiness of the water can make rescues difficult.

"You can't see any distance underneath the water," he said. "I wouldn't recommend anybody jumping in there."

Investigators say James and 5 others had planned on swimming in the canal.

According to the Gates Fire Department Chief, James Harrington, this is not the first drowning in the canal, and adds they have become almost a yearly occurrence.

Already this year, there have been at least 4 instances where the Gates Fire Department has had to respond to reports of people spotted in the canal.

Police say it's illegal to swim there.

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Washington Times