Officials in Cape Charles aim to make water safer for residents

Posted at 7:50 PM, Jul 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-02 19:50:31-04

Cape Charles, Va. -Two young people drowned in the town of Cape Charles this past year and it's put the issue of beach safety in the forefront.

Last August, the body of 8-year-old Uvihin "Ace" Horton was found at the South end of the Cape Charles beachfront

Relatives said the boy and cousins from New Jersey were visiting when they went to Cape Charles Beach for the day.

Ace, his aunt and other family members were in waist-deep water when a wave pulled them under. A jet-ski pulled the aunt and another adult from the water, not realizing that the boy was still under.

Then on June 21st, the body of a 15-year-old boy went missing in the water off Cape Charles.

Alvaro Lopez was swimming with a friend and got pulled under. His body was found a day later.

This week, the town put in float lines into the water.

Mayor of Cape Charles, George Proto said he feels terrible about the two drownings that occurred in his town the past year.

In the wake of the drownings, town leaders said they spent $10,000 putting a float line in the water. They say there were discussions about having this prior to the drownings as a way to keep boats and jet skis out of the area.

"This has been going on for awhile, this thought process and with the drownings, we felt it was much more urgent to get this in place," says Proto.

According to Mayor Proto, more signs warning people of the dangerous water are expected to arrive next week and will be put up on the beach. The new ones will be in English and Spanish.

Deborah Bender has lived in the small beach town for over 20 years. She said the additional safety measures should have been in place by the start of this season.

"The signs, the buoys, they should have been up by the first of May," said Bender.

NewsChannel 3 asked Mayor Proto why the signs were not in place by the start of the season.

"Well, we could've been a little faster on that. We are a small town of less than 1,000. Towns staff is trying to design signs, what should they say, look like and at the same time take care of normal duties; it's a lot to be doing," he responded.

One woman did not want us to use her identity; however, her cousin was the 8-year-old victim who drowned last summer.

"They are moving in the right direction to do more. I feel a lifeguard down there would be even better," she said.

Mayor Proto said there is no set beach safety budget, but told us council is revisiting the idea of a lifeguard, but he's worried about how they will pay for it.

NewsChannel 3 asked the Mayor if there is anything that the town could have done to prevent the second drowning from happening.

"It's difficult to say whether the town could've done anything more or not. What I would say is that the second drowning happened after 5 o'clock and a lifeguard would not have been on duty. There was also a sign very near where the second drowning happened, so I would like to believe, we would all like to believe there are things we could do to prevent tragedies like this from happening, but it's not clear what we could have done."