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Toddler Nearly Drowns at Big Creek State Park, DNR Urges Water Safety

POLK CITY, Iowa  --  Polk County Sheriff officials say a two-year-old nearly drowned at the Big Creek beach Saturday night. Officials say she was found unresponsive in the water and then airlifted to a hospital in Des Moines. Her condition is unknown.

On Sunday, the beach was packed with water goers. Leslie Mayhugh says she dresses her grandchildren in bright clothing so they are easy to spot in and out of the water.

"I'm hyper vigilant. We are always sure to keep a close eye on the little ones," she says. "We always have floating devices."

Another water incident at Lake Red Rock on Friday took the life of Charles Lee and barely spared his seven-year-old niece. Investigators say Lee was trying to save his niece when he drowned. A nearby fisherman was able to reach the young girl and preform CPR. The girl is expected to be okay.

The Department of Natural Resources warns swimmers of getting too comfortable around the water.

"You get complacent. Everybody does, but anything can happen at any time. There are a lot of fluke things that just seem to happen," says Chad Kelchen, a park manager at Big Creek State Park.

Lifeguards are never on duty at the beach and only two park rangers patrol the area. Officials say if you find yourself in danger, call 911. Even that can pose a problem, though.

"In an area this size, we've been dispatched to a wrong area of the park and that adds on time for the rescue personnel," says Kelchen.

The DNR stresses the importance of people knowing their exact surroundings in case of an emergency. Officials are working to implement locator signs that will be stationed throughout the park with the locations' exact addresses.