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Johnson's Shut-Ins Drowning: Kira Dempsey, 6, Dies in Popular State Park, Trapped Under Log

Categories: Crime, News

johnson-shut-ins.jpg
via mostateparks.com
Johnson's Shut-Ins.
Tragedy hit the popular Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park this weekend: Officials say that six-year-old Kira Dempsey got stuck under a log while swimming and drowned at the natural water park two hours south of St. Louis.

"She just got trapped...and the water was flowing pretty heavily," Sergeant Marty Elmore with the Missouri State Highway Patrol tells Daily RFT. "It's certainly a tragedy."

Elmore says that the young girl drowned in about three-and-a-half feet deep water.

Dempsey was from O'Fallon.

The highway patrol incident report says she was airlifted to Iron County Hospital yesterday afternoon and pronounced dead at around 5:30 p.m.

shut-ins-2.jpg
via Kbh3rd
Johnson's Shut-Ins.

Elmore tells Daily RFT he does not recall any similar tragedies in recent memory at the shut-ins, a well-known summer destination in Missouri.

"I just want to really encourage folks to use extreme caution around the water," he says. "The water has a lot of force when it's flowing like that."

It seems the drowning may have happened in one of the natural chutes at the site.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.


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57 comments
b.dennis3083
b.dennis3083

My family just left there yesterday morning... it is such a tragedy that is happened... my condolences go out to the family. I am so very sorry for your loss.

elphaba68
elphaba68

I cannot believe the callousness of some of the people that are commenting on this story. These are friends of mine, and they were absolutely not out drinking while their precious child drowned. And to even suggest such a thing just shows your ignorance, stupidity, and false sense of superiority that an accident could never happen to you. One of the first responders, a full grown man, was nearly pulled underneath the same log this poor child was trapped beneath. And for all of you 'perfect' commentators? If, God forbid, such an accident just happened that would devastate your entire family, as this one clearly has, I can only hope people show you the 'kindness' and 'compassion' that you've shown this family. Shame on some of you and your bullshit superior attitude.

Anastasia Beaverhausen
Anastasia Beaverhausen

I have to say that the story on your website is such a tragedy; not just this incredibly devastating accident that happened to such a wonderful family? But the unspeakable cruelty of some people who assumed that my friends are neglectful parents who were too drunk to care that their six year old baby girl was drowning while they were off partying somewhere else. I have known this girl's Mother & Grandmother for years, and they are remarkable, responsible, and loving people. I don't understand how or why people with no firsthand knowledge of either this devastating situation or heartbroken family are perfectly comfortable with saying anything and everything that pops into their psychotic little minds, or why they are allowed to? First Amendment my Ass, these are cruel people making an unimaginable situation so much harder to bear by spewing their cowardly filth safely from behind the anonymity of a computer screen. I attempted to defend her parents, but was unable to post any comments. Unlike the most revolting people imaginable who are making a devastating situation worse for a Mother going through the worst time of her life. Is there no way to get these hateful comments removed?

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

Tragic event. The teaser from the RFT on Facebook asks if the Shut-ins are just too dangerous? No. If we closed down every place and banned everything that resulted in a child's death, we would have nothing left. We ought not need to be told that raging waters and slippery rocks are a dangerous place for anyone.

Dan Porter
Dan Porter

You are nothing more than a child coward behind a computer screen. Enjoy your bubble.

Jesse Riley
Jesse Riley

It's not a matter of energy, but of notice.

Barry Gates
Barry Gates

r u that lazy that you can't click on a fuckin link

Jesse Riley
Jesse Riley

We were there a few weeks ago, it was tedious getting around. I couldn't imagine taking small kids. How did a log get on top of the 6 y/o's leg? Common sense prevails in all situations, it is important to have a back up plan and clear direction for the family. Always prepare your children mentally for what can happen! They don't always realize lurking dangers as us adults do.

blackflag42
blackflag42

such a sad thing to lose a child my thought are with the family.  Come on people pointing fingers you should all move to a island and poke each others eyes out shame on you ! in a blink on an eye this could happen to anyone anywhere life's a fragile thing don't take it for granted .

 

Rayna Skye
Rayna Skye

I almost drowned at this place when I was 21. I don't blame the parents either.

Rayna Skye
Rayna Skye

I almost drowned there when I was 21. I so I just think it's unsafe in general.

Momofthree
Momofthree

I was there yesterday.  I witness this horrible tragedy unfold.  The water was deceiving.  A large section was only 6-8 inches deep and safe to play.  At the end of this section was a "chute" or rapids.  The girl and two other siblings were pulled into this before they knew what was happening. The two boys made it through.  

For the "Where were the parents?" crowd on this board, they were there.  They were sober.  And they will be dealing with not being able to tuck in their little girl for the rest of their lives.

I saw the father frantically searching for his daughter who was swept away by the current and then pinned below the surface.  I heard his blood curdling scream once he realized his little girl was trapped below the surface.  I saw the body being pulled from the water while the siblings were huddled, sobbing near by.  It was a horrific accident.

For those of you who judge this poor family comfortably behind your computer screen, I would ask if you would say the same thing to these people if you saw them face to face?  My guess is you would not.  You are the equivalent of a school yard bully who when confronted folds like the insecure little person they see in the mirror.

My Christian principles tell me it is not our place to judge others.  As you can see I've already failed at this since I've made some assumptions about you.  I'm also taught to pray for this family as well as you.  Though the later will be hard, I will do both.

Andrew D'Angelo
Andrew D'Angelo

Another tragedy that could have been avoided by more watchful parents and/or other adult supervision. When the St. Francis is high, the JShutIns can be treacherous for even the most experienced/advanced canoeists/swimmers...so small children should never be allowed to be unsupervised in such treacherous environment. Unfortunately, the parents will have to live with the guilt of causing the death of their daughter, and hopefully (if they have other children now or in the future) they'll be more proactive in their supervision. They have tons of warning signs around that area, and ESPECIALLY WHEN ITS FLOODING in the surrounding waters. If the dumbass parents/adults didn't think it was dangerous with floodwaters coming down that granite chute...the St. Francis has long been used as the "white water canoeing/kayaking time trials for the Olympics" (so what does that tell you?). Apparently common sense is lacking where potentially alcohol consumption by the adults might be involved. I hate to sound so harsh but this is the reality we live in, unfortunately. Hopefully, parents will read this and take greater precautions over their children in treacherous environments, and not put them in harm's way unnecessarily. Sure accidents can happen, but at least take presumptive precautions first...and not put your children in danger like that.

mesmereyezme2
mesmereyezme2

Another tragedy that could have been avoided by more watchful parents and/or other adult supervision.  When the St. Francis is high, the JShutIns can be treacherous for even the most experienced/advanced canoeists/swimmers...so small children should never be allowed to be unsupervised in such treacherous environment.  Unfortunately, the parents will have to live with the guilt of causing the death of their daughter, and hopefully (if they have other children now or in the future) they'll be more proactive in their supervision.  

They have tons of warning signs around that area, and ESPECIALLY WHEN ITS FLOODING in the surrounding waters.  If the dumbass parents/adults didn't think it was dangerous with floodwaters coming down that granite chute...the St. Francis has long been used as the "white water canoeing/kayaking time trials for the Olympics" (so what does that tell you?).  Apparently common sense is lacking where potentially alcohol consumption by the adults might be involved.

I hate to sound so harsh but this is the reality we live in, unfortunately.  Hopefully, parents will read this and take greater precautions over their children in treacherous environments, and not put them in harm's way unnecessarily.  Sure accidents can happen, but at least take presumptive precautions first...and not put your children in danger like that.

Blake Harris
Blake Harris

Pay attention to your kids near bodies of water, pretty good rule of thumb to live by..

Daniel Stout
Daniel Stout

It is most certainly unsafe for children. I would NEVER let a 6 year old play there. As an adult I once feared I would drown.

Mike Schwab
Mike Schwab

The three most dangerous activities are: Travelling by privately own automobile. Sitting in a chair at work. Watching TV. They all increase the risk of death from obesity by 20%.

Mike Schwab
Mike Schwab

You can drown in a few inches of water if you can't turn your face away. Can happen anywhere.

jojojojo
jojojojo

For all the ignorant people that are so quick to judge and want to blame someone.  Wake up and quit living in a bubble.  Sometimes accidents happen. 35 people have drowned in Missouri rivers this year.  Are all the parents to blame for them too? If  you know anything about undercurrents and the amount of force that water exerts when pinned against something, you would realize even if you're standing right next to a person that is swept under, there isn't much you can do, even if they are wearing a life jacket.

Don't think you're invincible. Someday something tragic will happen to you and people like you will be judging you.

My heart and prayers go out to the family for their incredible loss.

Carla Clapp
Carla Clapp

I have no idea whether or not the parents were negligent or not, but I do know that as an adult I almost drowned in a river once when my canoe flipped over and pinned my leg against a rock while the water filled the canoe up. I'm lucky to be alive today and until you've lived stuff like this, you don't realize how fast things like this can happen. I'm lucky that there was another guy on the bank that could help my husband lift the canoe off of my leg. I wish this 6 year old has been as lucky. God bless her and her family.

Keli Renee Robinson
Keli Renee Robinson

It's about supervision. There is no reason that a six year old should be unsupervised in Johnson Shut-ins. I know the parents re grieving but in the shut-ins a six-year old should be attached to your hip and watched at all times in the water.

donovan291
donovan291

People should just pray for the child and family on hold any judging to themselves. Things can happen in a split second and sometimes no one is to blame. This is just a sad story and you should pray that it never happens to you.

Thee Lovingcup
Thee Lovingcup

True, that reservoir should have NEVER been rebuilt

Thee Lovingcup
Thee Lovingcup

Unsafe for anyone if the Upper Reservoir on top of Profit Mountain breaches, signs clearly state one should be ready to vacate the area and take 200 steps to higher ground. The signs along beaches clearly state that these are unimproved beaches with no lifeguards. 3.5 feet of water is enough to drown a child that is unsupervised, that is clear.

Kristin Scudder
Kristin Scudder

No it's not unsafe, I grew up going to that park and my children have also survived trips to the shut-ins. The only thing dangerous there is Ameren UE's water reservoir.

Brook D'Crook
Brook D'Crook

what is unsafe is FERC relicensing Ameren's Taum Sauk hydroelectric power facility on Proffit Mountain after the reservoir breach in 2005. profits > public safety

James Wright
James Wright

Can't believe anyone was out there after all the flash flooding.

Holly Indence
Holly Indence

Yes, the outdoors are just TOO dangerous. Outlaw nature and sit your kids in front a screen. You can't control everything. Bad things happen. It is called life and it is full of accidents.

Natalie Cella Wizda
Natalie Cella Wizda

still a tragedy. praying for the family. this stuff pisses me off because could have been avoidable if there was proper, consistent supervision. so damn sad.

anon
anon

@Anastasia Beaverhausen  This little girl's mother was in no way responsible, she wasn't there.  Kira was there with her father and his girlfriend and between them seven children.  I do not know her mother, but I'm sure if she'd been there this would not have happened.  

elphaba68
elphaba68

Andrew, you are a fucking idiot that obviously derives some sick pleasure through the misfortune of others. The adults were not drinking, and they were watching their three children. People take their children to the Shut Ins all the time; this was just a tragic accident. If you had seen this poor family tonight at the visitation of their beautiful child, not even able to walk because of the depth of their grief? I doubt you would be so fucking heartless. When you take your children out for an excursion, you think about picking out a bottle of juice at a convenient store on the way home or maybe a Tshirt to commemorate a good time - NOT a casket. Presumptive precautions? Maybe at the Funeral home tonight you would have been impressed by the bulletin board with all of her ribbons won by being on the swim team. Or maybe you would have been a dick like you have here. God forbid anything like this ever happens to someone YOU love? But I certainly hope people show you the same 'kindness' you've shown the Dempsey Family.

jaco1175
jaco1175 topcommenter

@Andrew D'Angelo you are a jerkoff, go fuck yourself

elphaba68
elphaba68

You 'hate to sound harsh'. Really? Because you sound like you're really getting off on it. As for the assumptions that you're making, it's obvious that you don't know what you're talking about:

*Alcohol 'potentially might be involved'

*This 'could have been avoided by more watchful parents'

*Apparently' common sense was lacking'

And you have the fucking nerve to say that 'unfortunately, the parents will have to live with causing the death of their daughter' and 'hopefully they'll be more proactive in the supervision of their other children'. Honestly? You could very well be the most vile, evil, heartless, revolting bitch on the entire planet. Ask yourself if you truly think it's helps anyone other than yourself and your obvious need to have a false sense of superiority over other people to be making Presumptive statements like the ones that you just 'hated to say'. If you hated to say it so much? Shut the fuck up, and let these people grieve. Since you're obviously perfect, I'm certain there must be some water around that needs walked on, or some that perhaps needs turned into wine. Vile. Bitch.

caitheelf17
caitheelf17

The Dempsey family is a part of my local swim team. And for one, Kira slipped off the rocks, she wasnt swimming as the article suggests. Her parents are not dumbasses, but apparently you are. If you feel that in order to serve your purpose in life you must scold a grieving family about the loss of a girl you never got to meet, I pity you. As a lifeguard I spend my days trying to help people, what you are doing is the farthest thing from it.

http://m.dailyjournalonline.com/news/local/new-at-pm-more-learned-about-drowning-at-johnson-s/article_f52d3dc6-02f1-11e3-9129-001a4bcf887a.html?mobile_touch=true

This report gives a more accurate description of the event. Sometimes life isn't black and white, and nobody is really to blame. I just wish that heartless people like you can realize that two little girls lost their sister, a mother lost her daughter, and the world lost a beautiful little girl. Right now is the time for sympathy, pity, and mourning. Not self-righteous bull shit out of the mouth of an internet passersby. We don't need your 2 cents on the subject because you have no idea about the family or what they are going through. I hope nothing like this happens to you so you wont have to read soulless comments such as yours. Look within yourself before you ASSUME whats inside others.

jaco1175
jaco1175 topcommenter

@Blake Harris go fuck yourself you judgemental prick

elphaba68
elphaba68

Why is it that you assume she was unsupervised? Of course a 6 year old shouldn't be unsupervised. And a statement that begins with 'I know the parents are grieving' should end with 'and my heart goes out to them for their loss' or something similarly normal and compassionate rather than judgemental, presumptuous, and bitchy.

jaco1175
jaco1175 topcommenter

@Alexander Wilson go. fuck. yourself. jack off.

UrbanBrownGirl
UrbanBrownGirl

Where were her parents? They were there, watching her. Not only were her parents watching her but, as a general practice, people that frequent the shut ins watch everyone like a hawk. Tragic things happen in the blink of an eye and you can no more control them than you can control the universe. The father was frantic immediately after it happened. Additionally, I personally attended to the father with my husband and I smelled no alcohol nor thought he was under the influence of anything but sheer panic and emotional grief at being struck helpless by nature. As for those saying that "if her mom had been there , this wouldn't have happened?" Shannon's gf was there as well. A mother herself, she was attentive and also NOT under the influence. She was as grief stricken as any parent could be. Being in the presence of your biological mother does not guarantee you safety. How dense do you have to be to say something so ignorant? My husband and I, like so many others, decided to enjoy a beautiful Sunday at the shut ins. No one could have possibly known such a tragic accident would happen. This won't be an event that anyone present there that day will ever forget. That family is devastated. I suggest you develop some sense of maturity and compassion.... Speaking of... Where are your parents, your guides through life? Were they absent during your formative years? It seems to me that, had they done a proper job of guiding you, you wouldn't say something so insensitive in the wake of such a tragedy. Shame on you.

jaco1175
jaco1175 topcommenter

@Valarie Clancy Harrington I'm sure they were just jacking off on the beach and are now celebrating that their lives are free again. Sound right you ignorant judgemental twat?

jaco1175
jaco1175 topcommenter

@Eric R Bricker Spoken like someone who must be perfect, at being an ignorant jackoff that is

jaco1175
jaco1175 topcommenter

@Natalie Cella Wizda what pisses me off is judgemental twats like yourself who seem to know it all when you don't know shit. Accidents happen to anyone so have some real sensitivity and shut the fuck up.

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