Nfld. & Labrador

Young woman trapped underwater at Big River in Flatrock, rushed to hospital

A female has been taken to hospital after being trapped underwater at a popular and notorious swimming hole in Flatrock.

Fire chief issues stern warning against swimming in the area

A popular spot along Big River in Flatrock is known for several deaths over the years, including the 2017 drowning death of 16-year-old Zachary Knee. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

A young woman has been taken to hospital after being trapped underwater at a popular and notorious swimming hole in Flatrock.

St. John's Regional Fire Department Platoon Chief Paul Chaytor said when firefighters arrived Wednesday afternoon, she was still underwater.

Chaytor had no comment on the status of the victim as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, but he did issue a stern warning against swimming in the river.

"Over the years I've been down here a multitude of times and I feel personally that it's an area to be avoided," he said. "There's been a lot of tragedy down here over the years and I think people should think twice about playing in this area, or swimming in this area."

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary also responded to the area, near Hickey's Lane, but could not provide an update on the victim's condition Wednesday afternoon.

A Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer photographs a popular place along Big River in Flatrock, after a woman was rushed to hospital. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Big River has been the site of several drownings and close calls in the past. The most recent fatality was Zachary Knee, 16, who passed away after being stuck underwater in 2017.

The river also claimed the lives of Chris Codner in 2002 and Fred Gamberg in 1995.

Video sent to CBC News earlier Wednesday shows the river surging after two days of rainfall in the area. The river is known for a strong undercurrent that has pulled people into a crevice beneath the surface.

Some, like Josh Conway, have emerged with the help of other swimmers. Conway recounted his harrowing story in 2015, when he jumped into the river and got dragged under by the current. He began screaming and was plucked from the water by other swimmers, but not before he lost consciousness.

Signs were erected by the Town of Flatrock after Knee's death in 2017, warning people against swimming there and reminding them of the deaths and dangers. Despite the history of incidents, it remains a popular destination in the summer.

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