Is it Safe to Take a Swim in the Red River?

A deeper look into the Red River to see if it's actually safe to swim in after recent drownings

FARGO, ND — Fargo Police have identified the man who drowned after going swimming in the Red River in Lindenwood Park.

Hari Pradhan, 32, of Fargo, went into the river Monday afternoon but did not come back out.

He is the third swimmer to die in the Red River this summer.

Not only is the river proving to be dangerous at times for swimming, rescue crews are also being put at risk.

Authorities said it’s not illegal to swim in the Red River, however, with the recent drownings taking place throughout the summer, they said it might be best to think first before jumping in.

“I’d say typically, we’re between half a dozen and a dozen calls per year without looking at the statistics,” said Moorhead Fire Chief Jeff Wallin.

Pradhan was found just a few hours after disappearing while swimming in the Red.

In June, David Tikayne disappeared after going for an afternoon swim.

His body was recovered more than a week later.

In July, MSUM student Fanuel Asrat, a swim instructor, went swimming in the Red with friends.

His friends made it out.

Asrat’s body was recovered two days later.

Authorities said the Red can be complex and deceiving.

Calm on the surface, but turbulent beneath the water.

“It’s just enough current there that it could prevent you from being able to get back up and becoming untangled again,” Chief Wallin said.

“On the surface, the river looks very calm, but once you get in there and get below the surface or on the surface, the water is always moving,” said Chris Gross, who is a dive team member of Valley Water Rescue. “It’s always flowing north and it’s always going to move you.”

Not only is the current an issue, but there’s all kinds of things underneath the surface that you could get snagged on, like broken concrete.

“Bottles, concrete chunks, car parts, trees, branches, fishing line fishing hooks,” Gross said are just some of the examples.

“Because visibility isn’t good in the Red River, it’s very hard to see more than a few inches in,” Chief Wallin said. “You can get caught up in some of the stuff that’s in the water.”

While the dive team is trained to rescue people from the water, it’s also a hazard for them to get caught up in the unknowns of the river.

“The river is full of sediment so depending on where we are, we got to wade through one to two feet of sediment until we can get out into the water to get our diver out in the middle of the channel,” Gross said.

If you are still thinking about going for a dip, authorities want you to be cautious.

“If you’re going to be swimming in the Red River, try to do that with other companions,” Chief Wallin said.

Rescue crews also recommend if you’re going to go into the Red River, make sure to wear a life preserver.

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