Weeks after a Federal Hill woman’s body was found in the Inner Harbor, and a little over a year after a Vermont man drowned in the water, officials today approved funding for additional safety protections to help prevent drownings.
Baltimore’s Board of Estimates this morning approved a line item for $51,000 to pay for more safety rings and ladders around the harbor. The money will come from the Department of Transportation’s budget, and add to an existing $116,400 deal between DOT and Curtis Bay-based Marine Technologies, Inc. approved last May. The contract expires April 30.
The additional funds arrive a little over two weeks after police recovered the body of Alexandra Carroll, 25, from the harbor near the Maryland Science Center. Police said no foul play was suspected and that “it appears that she drowned,” though the results of an autopsy are pending.
A year earlier, Ryan Schroeder, 26, of Vermont drowned in the harbor near Barnes & Noble in a section without any ladders or rings to grab on to. In the wake of his death, his parents met with city officials and advocated they undertake additional safety measures to prevent further deaths.
Families and advocates have been calling for heightened protections for decades.
In 2013, Evan Curbeam of Rosedale drowned in the water near Fells Point, leading his father to call for similar safety-oriented steps, including lighting.
A much earlier high-profile case was that of Dianca Jennings, a 14-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who drowned in 1982 after her wheelchair rolled down an incline at Harborplace and into the water. Advocates for people with disabilities called for lifeguards and other safety measures to be put in place.
Following Schroeder’s death, the city has delivered on assurances it would install more ladders and rings. Chesapeake Bay Magazine reported last month that they have since placed some in Canton, Fells Point and the Inner Harbor, and another phase of improvements is planned.
DOT spokesman German Vigil told the magazine the agency was working with the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore to target “high-priority areas” for installations.
Reached for comment today, Waterfront Partnership president Laurie Schwartz said in a statement, “We support the City in implementing additional safety measures along the waterfront.”
Baltimore Fishbowl has reached out to DOT for additional details.
This story has been updated.