SHREVEPORT, La. — Six teenagers from at least two families drowned in the Red River in northwest Louisiana after they stepped off a ledge from shallow water into a chasm about 20 feet deep yesterday, fire officials said. A 14-year-old was rescued.
Shreveport Assistant Fire Chief Fred Sanders said he believed the victims, ages 13 to 18, included three brothers in one family and a sister and two brothers in another.
“They were out here with some adults. But unfortunately, neither the children nor the adults could swim,’’ he said.
Sanders said names may be released today, after the department is sure relatives have been notified.
The teens had started playing in a familiar area but ended up at a spot where the bottom fell suddenly, and that’s where divers found the bodies, he said.
“I certainly hope I never see anything like this again in my career,’’ Fire Chief Brian Crawford told WAFB-TV.
Sanders said he did not know whether one fell and pulled down others or whether the teens tried to rescue one another.
It took more than three hours to find all the bodies, he said.
Rescue crews were delayed a bit because the accident was reported as near the Jimmie Davis Bridge but was almost a mile away, Sanders said.
“It’s devastating,’’ Sanders said. “To my knowledge the city has never experienced an incident of this magnitude.’’
The Times of Shreveport reported that only one life jacket was available.
The families were in a recreational area of the Red River that has sand bars, Sanders said. The park is a popular picnic and fishing area, and some people do go wading.