LUDLOW FALLS — While the cool blue green waters calmly pool at the bottom of Ludlow Falls may look inviting, the dangers of one of the county’s most popular swimming holes lurk in its depths.
This week, as temperatures climbed to more seasonable temperatures, the Miami County Sheriff’s Office and the county highway department staff Bruce Johnson and Bart Weer installed nine new signs at the falls to warn people to stay away from the waters. A village ordinance bans swimming, wading and bathing in the creek, but fishing is allowed.
Ludlow Falls draws people around the Miami Valley to dive off its limestone cliffs each spring and summer — yet it’s both illegal and dangerous to swim in the falls area. Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak said deputies have already responded to calls to the falls two weeks ago. With some public pools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Duchak believes people may be drawn to areas like Ludlow Falls to swim this season.
Last August, Jalen Michael Ward Sheeler, 19, of Dayton, died at after jumping off the cliff into the water and never resurfaced, likely caught by debris or in the falls’ undertow. In June 1990, a 16-year-old Troy boy drowned in the pool below Ludlow Falls. A 17 year-old boy from Trotwood, Dwight Williams, died in the same area in August 1977. An account of Williams’ death stated a friend tried to save him but was being pulled under water with him at the bottom of the falls.
Under the highway overpass, Lt. Chris Bobb details the many stops the sheriff’s office road patrol makes at the area each summer, especially on hot days. The falls generally bring people from outside the area rather than locals, he said. Up to 50 calls a season, some multiple times a day, brings officers out to the falls to trespass those who are swimming or gathering in the area.
Duchak said many of those who become distressed in the waters are young, healthy people who underestimate the pull of the undertow, causing fatigue. The deepest part of the waters has been a dumping spot for appliances and items like mattress springs that also could hinder a swimmer.
Deputies will continue to respond to calls from the public and make regular checks of the area. Trespassers will be cited accordingly, Lt. Bobb said.
Duchak thanked the county commissioners, highway department, Ludlow Falls Fire Department, church property owners and the village for their support in adding more cautionary signs to the area ahead of the summer season.