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A young boy was rescued from the Housatonic River on Sunday, July 5, after he was swept away by the fast-moving water. Town officials and the First Light power company now plan to limit access to the water at the Great Falls. Photo by Janet Manko

First Light to limit access to Great Falls

AMESVILLE — The First Light power company announced Monday afternoon, July 6, that it would be closing some recreational access at the Great Falls area of the Housatonic River in Falls Village and the Amesville section of Salisbury.

First Light spokesman Len Greene said on Tuesday, July 7, that he wasn’t completely sure what would be closed besides the picnic area on Dugway Road in Amesville. First Selectman Curtis Rand of Salisbury and First Selectman Henry Todd of Falls Village were not entirely sure either.

The Fourth of July weekend saw an unusually large number of visitors to the Great Falls area. Rand told the Salisbury Board of Selectmen Monday evening, July 6, that the crowds were due to the combination of the holiday falling on a Saturday, hot weather, and closures of other parks and access points farther south on the Housatonic.

Rand sent an email to First Light on July 6 that read, in part: “After this weekend’s unfortunate events, and in the interest of public safety due to COVID-19 and general water safety, I urge First Light to close or seriously limit the use of the Great Falls river access for the foreseeable future. The situation is unmanageable and dangerous and needs to be curtailed.”

Todd said the crowds at the Dugway picnic area were dense and many people were not wearing masks or observing social distancing.

First responders rescued a young boy from the Great Falls section of the Housatonic River on Sunday afternoon, July 5, at around 3 p.m. The falls are between the Amesville section of Salisbury on one side and Falls Village on the other.

Tim Downs, chief of the Falls Village Volunteer Fire Department, said the boy was with his parents and playing in the river when he was carried off by the current, which was robust because the First Light power station was not diverting water at the time. The boy managed to get out of the current and on to a “small rock island,” and was afraid to try to cross on his own.

First responders — equipped with ropes and a life jacket — got across the river to the boy and brought him to safety on the Amesville side of the river.

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