FAIRMONT, W.Va. -- The superintendent of Valley Falls State Park will decide over the next few days whether to file charges against a couple whose dog was swept over the waterfalls and two fishermen who violated a swimming ban when they jumped in to rescue it.
Superintendent Ron Fawcett has pulled eight bodies out of the frigid, swift-moving Tygart Valley River in the 18 years he's run the Fairmont park. He said Monday that the body count nearly rose when a couple went wading with two dogs and a little girl.
One dog jumped off a 2 1/2-foot ledge, was swept over the first set of falls and became stranded on the rocks Saturday, Fawcett said. Two fishermen jumped in to rescue it, and one of them was nearly swept over the second set of falls.
Fawcett said he screamed and gestured at the fishermen to stop, but they couldn't hear him over the roar of the water. Now he's consulting with the Marion County prosecutor's office on whether to charge them.
Swimming, wading and the consumption of alcohol are banned at the park, and signs warn of the dangers and fines. Though fines can be as little as $20, Fawcett said court costs are about $168.
Fawcett said media reports about the possibility of charges have made some people angry, but he doesn't care.
"I'd rather have people getting ticked at me than pull them out dead," he said Monday. "This place is beautiful, but it will kill you in a heartbeat."
Two brothers died in September 2008, and the wife of one nearly died trying to rescue them, Fawcett said.
More than 150 drownings have been documented, he said, most in the past 60 to 70 years.