Wednesday, May 26, 2010

South Bay Tragedy

Max, one of Tom and Mary Hack's beloved Boykin Spaniels, died a tragic death on Monday. Tom was walking him south of the Basilica in the South Bay when Max took off in pursuit of some geese. He got into the water and was sucked into a culvert and drowned before Tom could get to him. Max was a very special dog--dear to his humans and to everyone who knew him.

This is not the first time a beloved pet of the First Ward has come to a tragic end in the South Bay, on property belonging to Holcim (formerly SLC). Meg Carlin lost a dog in similar circumstances several years ago.

Contacted by Mary today, Hudson DPW Superintendent Rob Perry said he would ask Holcim to install grates on the culvert lest more dogs--or possibly even children--fall victim to this very treacherous situation. It might help if Holcim heard from several of the rest of us as well.


  1. What a horrible thing, and one this household can fully empathize with.

    The loss of a dog in this way and at this very spot (eight years ago) brings back some important issues that we have had a lot of time to mull over.

    The surface of that water is deceptive, and the culverts are almost entirely hidden from view. But the intensity and the menace of the suction at the two, 24-inch culverts cannot be understated.

    (From our private hydrology study of the East Basin - conducted from the old L&B parking lot - we estimate that more than four, olympic-sized swimming pools-worth of water pass through those culverts every six hours.)

    The idea of a child OR an adult being sucked into one of those culverts haunts us - not to mention the thought of other dogs and wildlife, and now Max.

    The easy and callous response would be that dogs and/or humans are trespassing, but that is not necessarily the case. We are used to exploring the South Bay in kayaks, which is a right that is available to all.

    We once witnessed a parent and child fishing from a small, inflatable craft on the East Basin side of the dyke, right beside the culverts. Since this was their right in New York State - even on the East Basin - and where liability is the first thought, this hazardous scenario ought to be among the first considerations.

    New York State's definition of a waterway that is "navigable-in-fact" even includes some broad and surprising details about reaching inaccessible waters that are navigable-in-fact:

    Our sympathies to the Hacks.

    T. O'Connor & M. Carlon

  2. I have since learned that because the East Basin is a tidal body, the public's right to use ALL of the waters of the South Bay - and use them right up to the dangerous culverts - falls under the category of "navigable-in-fact" in New York State.

    This sheds an interesting light on the alleged reaction to the incident by an O&G representative following a public request that someone add 4 safety grates to the ends of the 2 culverts (in today's Register Star):

    “'[Ken Faroni's] response was that there are no trespassing signs and said that people should not be on the causeway at all,' [DPI's] Perry said. 'I’m not surprised. I made it quite clear that I expected this to be their response.'”

    "Navigable-in-fact," right to the culverts. Surprised now?

    T. O'Connor